Maori King calls hui on Kingitanga's future

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 04/02/2013
GROWING CONCERN: Maori King Tuheitia will discuss the future of the Kingitanga with the tribe’s grassroots at a two-day hui at Turangawaewae Marae.
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ
GROWING CONCERN: Maori King Tuheitia will discuss the future of the Kingitanga with the tribe’s grassroots at a two-day hui at Turangawaewae Marae.

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The Maori King is calling for the entire Waikato-Tainui tribal membership to have an "open and frank" discussion over the future of the Kingitanga, asking if the movement is still relevant.

The move has been labelled the most significant hui to be called in decades.

A two-day meeting this week has been called and a programme is being sent to tribal members where King Tuheitia addresses the threat that "comes from within".

"Are my people still willing to live up to and honour their responsibilities as kaitiaki of the Kingitanga?" he wrote.

The meeting was called after he asked for tribal politicians to vacate their posts and warned the tribe was on the "brink of calamity".

"I have heard our own people saying things that reflect their actions and present day thinking that since our parents have died we have not been involved in or supported the movement. Our young people are asking what the Kingitanga is all about."

The king's representative on the tribal executive, Tukoroirangi Morgan, will convene the meeting and said it is the most significant hui to be called in decades.

"The last time a hui of this significance was held was 30 years ago and it was called by Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu in the midst of turmoil," he said.

Suggestions that the tribe's parliament and executive arm will face restructuring are on the table with the meeting preparing to discuss existing governance arrangements and the current marae-based representative structure.

"I guess this is an opportunity for the tribe to have a significant discussion around what we are going to do about the board."

The hui is designed to be a game-changer with the king choosing to bypass the tribe's elected representatives to seek grassroots support.

"We have all of the discussions within the tribal parliament but change and support must come from outside of Te Kauhanganui, amongst our people.

"When you have got two competing entities you are going to get conflict.

"Whether or not the structure that was entrenched by Sir Robert [Mahuta] is still relevant in our time - well the answer is that change has come."

Maori historian Dr Paul Moon said the Kingitanga had a long and proud history and had a "crucial role" to play in modern society.

"This thing has a pedigree that goes back a long way and is a huge advantage for Waikato. There is an accumulation of experience, there is an accumulation of wisdom and a lot of very very committed people behind the king."

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He said the movement suffered because it "doesn't trumpet itself enough" but evidence of its significance was its ability to bring different factions together at the same time.

"One of the things you don't get anywhere else in the country is you get all the senior Maori from iwi around the country, you get urban Maori and everybody coming together.

"But more important is they are not coming together to push their own little barrow - they are coming together to show respect and that is unique," Dr Moon said.

The meeting will be held tomorrow and Wednesday at Turangawaewae Marae, Ngaruawahia, from 8.30am.

- Waikato Times

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