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Māori king shunned at coronation opener in London

Video / Kereama Wright / Aukaha

The beginning of New Zealand’s diplomatic mission to the UK for the coronation of King Charles has got off to a bumpy start with the shunning of the Māori King and tikanga at an opening event at New Zealand House in London.

The event was attended by King Tuheitia and hosted by high commissioner Phil Goff, with dignitaries like Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro and Dame Naida Glavish also in attendance.

Things got off to a bad start with Goff taking the podium to greet the crowd and welcome all those in the meeting space.

Goff started with the Prime Minister and Governor General, and eventually, with his body side-on to the king, he acknowledged the monarch.

Met with puzzled faces, Goff went on to make a clumsy reference about how few people in the crowd had seen a coronation in the past, seemingly to illustrate the significance of the proceedings involving the new British monarch, but failing to recognise Kīngitanga himself was coronated in 2006.

That was when Kīngitanga spokesman Ngira Simmonds got up and interjected.

'Māori being pushed down'

First in reo Māori and then in English, Archdeacon Simmonds addressed the ignoring of tikanga like karakia, and the failure to properly acknowledge the king.

"I need to express significant disappointment as to what has taken place here," Simmonds said.

"When this happens the experience we feel as Māori is one of being pushed down in the life of our nation where pākehā are lifted up.,

"None of you if you come to Turangawaewae marae will ever feel belittled I guarantee you," Simmonds said.

The Kīngitanga sat in silence but many in the room applauded the interjection.

“No governor-general that has ever stepped foot on the marae has ever felt the pain of the Kīngitanga,” Simmonds continued.

King Charles' invitation

“We honour these prestigious and honourable offices of our nation time and time again but our government does not return that favour to us.”

Charles' coronation reunites the sons of the two Queens who completed the Tainui settlement in 1995 after nearly 30 years apart.

This was the first time a British monarch apologised to Māori, and it remains the only piece of legislation signed here and in public by the late Queen Elizabeth.

Simmonds spoke of King Charles extending several invitations to the Kīngitanga for the coronation.

“Therein lies the commitment of the Crown to the Kingitanga to te iwi Maori, to our many rangatira who are gathered here today.”

He chastised Goff’s failure to recognise the coronation of the Māori king.

Challenge to unite

“We have had [a coronation] too. It took place in 2006 and all of the leaders of our nation were there,” Simmonds said.

“Ladies and gentlemen in honesty, in purity and kindness, we need to get these things right.”

“Yes this is a significant occasion, yes this is absolutely unique and will not be seen in many, many lifetimes but again to lift that up at the expense of something else only belittles Māori experience and reality.”

Speaking to media later, Simmonds reiterated the close relationship between the two monarchs and said the issue was with government officials, saying it mirrored what happened all too often in Aotearoa.

Simmonds issued a challenge, which was greeted by applause by attendees.

“To you all honourable leaders of our nation in deep humility and aroha, I offer these words to challenge you and to most importantly support you in bringing our nation together.”

'Needs to work on'

At an event later in the evening, a full welcome was performed by members of the Ngāti Rānana London Māori Club.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins acknowledged things had not gone as planned when talking to media later in the evening.

“It is important the Crown-Māori relationship is acknowledged,” Hipkins said.

“It may not have always happened in the past, and it is perhaps something New Zealand needs to work on”.


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