Decision on King's successor up to iwi leaders

ROYALTY: King Tuheitia and his son Korotangi Paki.
ROYALTY: King Tuheitia and his son Korotangi Paki.

Korotangi Paki has every chance of ascending the Kingitanga throne but the decision will come down to a meeting of the leaders of iwi around the country when the position is vacated.

The second son of the Maori King, Tuheitia, was in the news after he was discharged without conviction on charges of theft, burglary and drink driving on July 3.

Paki, 19, is the second of three children, but tradition holds that he has an equal chance of succeeding the throne as his older brother Whatumoana Paki.

Maori King Tuheitia can nominate a preference to take over from him but accession to the throne was not a birthright and the decision would be made by iwi leaders loyal to the Kingitanga movement.

That could see Korotangi leapfrog his brother, or their sister Nga-Wai-Hono-i-te-po Paki could bypass them both at the discretion of the tribal leaders.

A single unbroken line of succession has been maintained throughout the Kingitanga history but if none of the Paki heirs found favour with Maori, a successor could be chosen from a cousin, distant family member or another tribe.

Waikato have always maintained they are kaitiaki of the Kingitanga movement and have no say in the final decision.

The movement was established to halt the alienation of Maori from their lands by the colonial government in the 1850s.

In 1856, Ngati Tuwharetoa chief Iwikau te Heuheu convened a hui at Pukawa on the shores of Lake Taupo where chiefs from around the country decided on a Maori monarch.

Waikato chief Potatau Te Wherowhero was chosen and in 1858 was declared king.

In August 2006, at the funeral of Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, a meeting was held between the descendants of the chiefs who appointed Potatau more than a century ago.

While talk around the marae said Tuheitia's sister Heeni Katipa was the frontrunner to take over the role, Tuheitia was accepted on the day.

Paki's lawyer, Paul Wicks QC, successfully argued the drink-driving and theft convictions would likely bar his elevation to the Kingitanga's highest office.

Judge Philippa Cunningham agreed and discharged him without conviction but imposed a special condition he provide the court with evidence he did not have an alcohol problem and if he did, that he had addressed it.

The ruling led to an uproar from commentators and social media and the Crown Law office is considering an appeal of the decision.

He became victim of his own making in the days that followed when gang-inspired images and racist remarks from his Facebook page became widely known and an expletive-driven rant filmed nearly two years ago emerged.

He was caught drink driving in Gisborne on October 20 at 2.15am with an alcohol reading of 761. The current limit for drivers under the age of 20 is zero.

In March, he and three friends were caught after they stole surfboards from a holiday park near Gisborne and items from a car.

The co-accused, Te Ahorangi Totorewa, 20, Hamuera Wipoha Pugh, 19, and Raa Ngaru Smith, 18, pleaded guilty in the Gisborne District Court and were discharged without conviction while Paki also pleaded guilty and was discharged without conviction. 

Waikato Times