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Māori King Movement: Wikis


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Te Arikinui of Kīngitanga
Tuheitia Paki

Style: His Highness
Heir apparent: None, elective.
First monarch: Pōtatau Te Wherowhero
Formation: 1858

The Māori King Movement or Kīngitanga is a movement that arose among some of the Māori tribes of New Zealand in the 1850s to establish a symbolic role similar in status to that of the monarch of the colonising people, the British.

The position of Māori monarch is a non-constitutional role with no legal power in New Zealand, but it is a symbolic role invested with a high degree of mana (prestige). Since the 1850s the role has been vested in the Tainui iwi (tribe) who agreed to guard the position when it was created. The current Māori monarch, Tuheitia Paki, is descended from the first Māori king, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, and was elected in 2006. His official residence is Tūrongo House at Tūrangawaewae marae in the town of Ngaruawahia.

The Kīngitanga movement and its influence has expanded since its establishment and it is widely recognised and respected by Māori in many parts of New Zealand today.


Origins of the movement

In the early 1850s, a movement to establish a Māori king developed in response to the rapid loss of Māori land to the British government and colonists. The movement was instigated by Tamihana Te Rauparaha (son of Te Rauparaha) after having met Queen Victoria in England in 1852. It was believed that by having a monarch who could claim status similar to that of Queen Victoria, Māori would be able to deal with Pākehā (Europeans) on equal footing. The establishment of the monarchy was also designed to achieve unity among iwi of all regions of the islands and thus weaken the potential on the part of the British to “divide and rule”; and, in addition, it was seen as a step towards establishing law and order.

Te Rauparaha's cousin, Matene Te Whiwhi of the Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Toa iwi, attempted unsuccessfully to persuade 9 chiefs from various iwi to put themselves forward for the position. The elderly chief Pōtatau Te Wherowhero also expressed his reluctance, but was persuaded to accept the mantle of king at the wish of his own tribe Ngati Mahuta. Te Wherowhero was formally selected as king by a meeting of chiefs of the Māori tribes held at Pūkawa, Lake Taupo, in April 1857 and was crowned during elaborate ceremonies held at his marae in Ngāruawāhia in 1858. He became known as Pōtatau te Wherowhero or simply Pōtatau.

The King Movement had influence over large parts of New Zealand’s North Island – in particular, the lands of the Ngati Tuwharetoa, Taranaki, Whanganui and Tainui iwi that were involved in the movement’s establishment.

Dealings with the Crown

Tāwhiao, second Māori King (1860-1894)

Following the stalemate of the First Taranaki War in 1861, the British government under Governor Thomas Gore-Browne began making arrangements to attack the Waikato to assert British authority over the interior of the North Island.

Pōtatau who at this time lived at Mangere near Auckland, wished to continue to work in co-operation with the British Government, but many of his followers adopted an opposing position. Gradually the two sides grew polarised, culminating in warfare in the Waikato region in 1863-64, by which time Pōtatau had died (in 1860) and been succeeded by his son, Matutaera Tāwhiao, or King Tāwhiao.

In light of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, King Tāwhiao travelled to England to petition Queen Victoria in 1884 for an independent Māori parliament and an independent enquiry into land confiscations. His request to meet with the Queen was rejected and he was instead shown to Lord Derby at the Colonial Office. He referred the petition to the New Zealand Government on the grounds that the Imperial government no longer had responsibility for such matters, but the New Zealand government dismissed it. All subsequent petitions taken to Britain were referred back to the New Zealand Government on the same grounds.[1]


The position of Māori monarch is not hereditary in principle. The monarch is appointed by the leaders of the tribes involved in the Kīngitanga movement on the day of the previous monarch’s funeral and before the burial. [2] To date, however, all Māori monarchs have been direct descendants of Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, the first Māori king, and each monarch has been succeeded by a son or daughter. With each successive monarch, the role of Pōtatau's family has been entrenched, although after any reign ends there is the potential for the mantle to be passed to someone from another family or tribe if the chiefs of the various tribes are in agreement. Thus far, though, the monarchy has been hereditary in effect.

List of Māori kings and queens

See also


External links



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