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WELLINGTON - British singer Elton John has been given a specially made Maori bird-feather cloak - a gift granted only to people of high rank.

"It's the Maori equivalent to an Academy Award and (also means) the inclusion of Sir Elton John as an honored member of Ngati Te Whiti" sub-tribe, said its chairman, Peter Love.

The cloak, known by Maori as a korowai, was "gifted as recognition of the enjoyment Sir Elton John's music has given to Maori over the years and his loyal continuance to return to Aotearoa to entertain," he said in a statement.

John played a concert last night before 15,000 people in the regional city of New Plymouth, the traditional home of the Ngati Te Whiti people.

- AP