Call to end king's reign

THE MAORI KING'S SON: Korotangi Paki, 19.
THE MAORI KING'S SON: Korotangi Paki, 19.

A Ngapuhi leader has called for the end of Maori royalty after the King's son was let off drink-driving and theft charges.

Long-standing critic of the king movement, David Rankin, said the time has come to "bring this colonial relic of an institution to an end".

He said the case against Maori King Tuheitia's son, Korotangi Paki, 19, had embarrassed and shamed Maoridom.

ROYALTY: King Tuheitia.
ROYALTY: King Tuheitia.

Calls and messages to representatives of the King's office remained unanswered by deadline last night. But a member of King Tuheitia's national council of twelve, Professor Pou Temara, dismissed Rankin's comments as out of their depth.

In a statement to media, Rankin likened the King movement to a badly injured horse.

"Sometimes you have no choice but to put it out of its misery. The same applies to the King Movement. The present truck-driver king cannot speak Maori, has to have other Maori advise him on basic protocol, and has been ordered by Tuku Morgan never to make any public statements. This is not a King but an object of nationwide ridicule."

Rankin said he called a meeting for the end of the year, to be held in Northland, to discuss the movement's future. Yet that claim was not able to be widely canvassed before deadline last night.

Temara, a professor of Maori language at Waikato University, said Rankin feeds off reaction.

"These are the rantings of a ultracrepidarian and I will not dignify it with a comment."

In other words, Temara thinks Rankin is one who criticises, judges, or gives advice outside his area of expertise.

However, Temara acknowledged it was a sensitive time.

Paki, was discharged without conviction after pleading guilty in the Auckland District Court this month to two counts of burglary, one of theft and one of drink-driving. Judge Philippa Cunningham discharged him after his lawyer, Paul Wicks, QC, argued a conviction would hinder his ability to accede to the throne.

The Crown has now filed an appeal against the ruling.

Crown Law Office media adviser Jan Fulstow said the appeal was made on July 23 as the result of "a very thorough review" by senior counsellors.

Paki 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.

Paki, the second-eldest son of Tuheitia, and his three accomplices were granted discharges without conviction, causing outrage around the country. The group were halfway through restoration programme Mana Tangata when they appeared in court. A progress report supplied to The Waikato Times by the Office of the King in Turangawaewae showed that after five weeks of voluntary work they had apologised to the victims, created art pieces for koha and took part in junior rugby league and mentoring.

Robyn Smith from Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou facilitated a meeting between Paki and the victims in Gisborne.

During the meeting Paki said the thefts were a "stupid mistake" and apologised.

"I am sorry for putting this on you, for putting a dark cloud over you and your family," he said.

Rankin is a well known critic of the King Movement, yet he said the public exposure of Paki's behaviour brought the matter to a head.

It "upset" him.

"[Paki] has had a privileged, charmed life - why does he need to commit burglaries?

"[Having Paki] in that situation reflects badly on the whole of Maoridom.

"A lot of Maori around the country are not actually happy with [Tuheitia] calling himself the king of all Maori because in reality he is only king of the Tainui region and people around the Central Plateau who want to go under his reign."

One of Paki's victims said they would beef up security at their home and hoped Paki learned his lesson, before giving him marlin bills to carve.

Another victim asked Paki to write a progress report after 12 months, something he committed to do for each victim.

Paki and his accomplices stole surfboards from Whakatane High School students staying at a Waikanae holiday park. He had created a piece of art for the school in reparation.

The group travelled with whanau to the school, where they each offered an apology to staff and students and gave a taonga called Whakapapa Pounamu.

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Waikato Times