National | King Tuheitia

Kawe mate tradition at Koroneihana holds strong

Today, the people of Tainui waka gathered under the embrace of their ancestral meeting house Mahinārangi at Tūrangawaewae Marae, to grieve collectively for their loved ones who've passed away during the year.

Kawe mate is a long-held tradition which has been part of Coronation celebrations since its inception.

Tom Roa says, “It's only right that we grieve.  There's a saying that "The Māori King is the widower of death", so we welcome those who have brought their loved ones here so that we may mourn them together.”

Nanaia Mahuta says, “Hundreds are here to represent their loved ones who've passed on throughout the year, so they may be remembered and at the same time we strengthen the bonds of genealogy and ancestry within Tainui.”

As well as the acknowledgement of the department, it's also a time to catch up with relatives and strengthen family ties.

Roa says, “It's also a pleasure for me to see who's here, and to say, "It's been awhile, who has died?"  Those sorts of questions pop up and then we talk more and people catch up with each other.”

Mahuta says, “There's happiness mixed with sadness.  Sadness for those who have died, but it's a time for bonding too.”

Being the 9th Coronation celebration for King Tuheitia and also the collective grieving of the departed, it's evident from the huge support from the iwi, young and old that this tradition is firmly entrenched.

Huirama Matatahi from Te Kaahui Rangatahi says, “The Coronation is a huge event for us, the kawe mate is a part of that event, so encompassing the Coronation sees us carry out all the duties required to make the event a success, hosting and feeding the guests, so the youth have taken up the challenge today for the survival of this tradition tomorrow.”

Tomorrow is another day and hopefully King Tuheitia will be well enough to greet the throngs in person.