Maori King did 'not use those words'

The Maori King, Tuheitia Paki, didn't use the word "abdicate" in his speech to the Waikato-Tainui tribe's parliament Te Kauhanganui on Sunday, according to a spokesman for his office.

The Waikato Times reported yesterday that King Tuheitia threatened to step down as King unless tribal members fell back into line. His comments appeared to stem from the fact that he was upset at criticism at his office's use of tribal funds and attacks on the executive board Te Arataura.

The Times headline yesterday was `I Will Abdicate'.

"King Tuheitia did not use those words, nor would he ever use such language," spokesman Rahui Papa said today.

"Many tens of thousands of people witnessed the king's coronation at Turangawaewae following the passing of his mother, Te Arikinui Te Ataiirangikaahu, in 2006.

"The crowning was a sacred ceremony that had followed the debate and ultimate selection by tribal leaders from throughout the country. The head of Kingitanga is not a title that can, nor would ever be abdicated irrespective of any tribal issues."

Mr Papa said the King addressed Te Kauhanganui at the weekend to call for an end to the public criticism of different groups and to call for unity.

"There have been some very damaging statements made by anonymous sources who purport to speak as tribal members. There was no talk of abdication. The King and our people are very hurt that his words have been twisted by the newspaper and their sources."

Times phone calls to the King's office seeking comments for yesterday's article weren't returned.

A source told the Times today that the King's words were that he might "withdraw as paramount chief of the tribe and King of the tribe".

Waikato Times