2 May 2009

Kingitanga celebrations come to a close

6:23 pm on 2 May 2009

Hundreds of people braved cold wet weather at Ngaruawahia's Turangawaewae marae on Saturday to mark the end of the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Kingitanga movement.

Kingitanga was founded in 1858, in an endeavour to unite Maori in the face of land confiscations. The symbolic position of Maori monarch has been vested in the Waikato-Tainui iwi.

Highlight of the day for many was the sight of six waka taua on the Waikato river with warriors paddling upstream and saluting King Tuheitia. There were also sports and cultural events and an exhibition highlighting the 150 years of Kingitanga and its seven monarchs.

Tuheitia's address to his people was postponed because he has just arrived back from overseas. It will now happen at the Koroneihana celebrations in August.

Waikato-Tainui historian Rahui Papa says Kingitanga is not so much a movement but a way of life. It has had its ups and downs, he says, but it will endure for the next 150 years.