National | Huntly

Loyalists hit back at King's former advisor

One of Māoridom's oldest national movements, the Kiingitanga, is attracting media attention for all the wrong reasons.

It's been around for 160 years and this weekend marks the 12th year since Kingi Tuheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII took over the mantle from his mother.

However, his leadership is being questioned.

The town of Ngāruawāhia is in preparation for its annual event but their King is under fire.

“It's just stuff that's going on behind the scenes that pretty much people don't see,” says Kiingitanga supporter Te Whetū Tukere.

“Yeah, they should be more honest about what they're up to.  All the putea (money) and all that.”

King Tuheitia’s reputation has come under scrutiny following a scathing letter by his former right-hand man.

“I don't agree because our role is to uphold, guard and care for our King,” says local loyalist, Hera Huirama-Osborne.

“It should be up to the motu or the iwi to decide aye, instead of just appointing himself,” says Tukere.

While the rift between Morgan and King widens those loyal to the movement remain optimistic.

“I am going to listen to the discussions regarding the King by his spokespeople,” says Huntly local, Hone Te Oranga Taoho.

“Aw no won't stop me, no way.  No, all the way!” says loyalist April Nepia.

While they support an investigation of the King’s office they don’t support the actions taken by one of their own.

“It's really sad to hear Tuku is questioning his abilities,” says Huirama-Osborne, “He was raised on the principles of the King Movement, he should know better.”

Members of the King's council have indicated that they will meet with the King during the celebrations, to discuss the latest issues and concerns.

However, media will not have access onto Tūrangawaewae marae following a media ban issued by the organising committee, which Te Kāea understands was a directive made by King Tuheitia last night.

For loyalists there's only one focus.

“I'm still gonna go and have fun you know,” says Vincent Mete.

“It's a beautiful thing, you meet people from around New Zealand, you get to interact and you learn different cultures, different protocols too, so it's cool, I love it.”

The tribes of Tainui waka will gather tomorrow to collectively commemorate their loved ones who have passed during the year before kicking off five days of celebrations.