Māori King Tuheitia confirms Māori Party support, dismisses Māori TV during annual speech at Koroneihana
Māori King Tuheitia has confirmed his support for the Māori Party and dismissed Māori TV in his annual coronation address.
Tuheitia, 62, spoke of poverty, incarceration and his poor health in a speech at the 11th Koroneihana celebration, held at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia.
At times making light of his fumbling through speech notes, he spoke off the cuff about his disappointment in negative media coverage of Māori issues.
"For instance, any little thing I do they want to have a dig and gutter rake behind me to see what they can dig up," he said.
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"We set up Māori TV for us, and I just look back at what they did to the kōhanga [reo], and where are they now? Kōhanga [reo] is coming up again; I don't see anything in the news.
"There are good stories out there."
Tuheitia renewed his pledge of allegiance to the Māori Party, first heard in his 2016 speech.
In March, he backed his adviser Rahui Papa in a Maori Party bid for the Hauraki-Waikato electorate and said Labour's longstanding MP Nanaia Mahuta lacked "mana" in Parliament.
"Many of you out there have opinions on my decision to take the Kīngitanga into politics ... My commitment to this political campaign with the Kīngitanga is not a five-minute one.
"I'm not concerned if Rahui [Papa] or any other Māori Party contenders don't win."
The representation of Māori principles should not be delegated to non-Māori, he said.
On Sunday, Labour MPs were conspicuously absent among visiting politicians, said not to be snubbed, but busy launching their campaign in Auckland.
Deputy leader Kelvin Davis attended Tuheitia's speech, saying afterwards he believed Mahuta still had the electorate "sewn up".
Despite Tuheitia's dismissal of Labour, Davis was eager to align the speech's message with the party's policy.
"It's great that the Kīngitanga is supporting Labour policy. He spoke about organ donations which is something we've spoken about as our Māori policy, he spoke about correctional reform which is part of our policy, he spoke about housing which is our policy."