It's the first day of Koroneihana Celebrations at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawāhia.

Marking eleven years since Kiingi Tuheitia Te Wherowhero took the throne.

Commemorations began remembering those that had passed since the last commemoration - including the Māori King's sister Kiritokia E Te Tomairangi Adrianne Gail Paki who passed away in April this year.

"This is the beginning of the four-day celebrations and we start with remembering our loved ones who have passed away," Turangawaewae spokesperson Moko Templeton says.

Te Kuiti resident, Leayne Atutahi says "I've come with my whānau from to bring my cousin who passed away on the 4th of July, and my uncle who passed on the 4th of December."


As is the custom, it's a powerful day remembering ancestors of old and more recent.

"There are so many families here with their children and their kaumātua and that's just to show the outpouring of love," Moko says. "And we're all grieving as one together for their loved ones. It's a really emotional day but also it's a happy day. We can celebrate their memories."

And being back at Tūrangawaewae brings back memories for Mrs Atutahi who used to come on the train with her whānau from Te Kuiti.

"We used to sleep in the old meeting house that was here. It was just hay and then we progressed to a caravan and stayed across where they had the sports for the weekend."

More than 2000 people are expected daily over the next three days - with cultural performances, sports competitions, educational exhibitions, speeches, pōwhiri and paddle board racing to keep everyone entertained.

Moko explains, "they start at the bottom of the Marae. They race all the way up to the bottom of Old Taupiri Road and they almost turn around at the King's house, and then come back down. So it's about fifteen kilometres but they absolutely love it."

And needless to say, Tūrangawaewae is legendary for manaakitanga.

"Our wharekai can feed! It's a rolling kitchen so it doesn't matter how many people are here, everyone will be fed and that makes us really happy because of course that's a Māori tikanga - that we must feed the people and we're renowned for that. That's part of our hospitality and the manaaki that we offer."

Saturday and Sunday are dedicated to cultural and sporting activities and on Monday the Māori King will make his annual speech.

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