The Kingitanga has made a passionate plea for iwi to come together ahead of the general elections to discuss Maori issues.
The Maori King, Tuheitia, and more than 100 people from Waikato nui tonu were on Friday welcomed on to Ratana pa, near Whanganui, for its annual celebrations.
Kingitanga spokesperson Tukoroirangi Morgan said there was a need for iwi to unite and discuss issues that affect Maori ahead of the general elections.
It wants to set up an advisory council made up of 12 people, which is independent of the Government.
Among the manuhiri (visitors) were South Africa's High Commissioner to New Zealand South African High Commissioner Zodwa Lallie, with many kaikorero (speakers) paying respect to Nelson Mandela.
Political leaders and MPs were also welcomed on to the pa on Friday, as well as the Paramount Chief of Tuwharetoa, Sir Tumu Te Heuheu.
There was also a powhiri for the Ringatu church from Te Tairawhiti, who have not attended the Ratana celebrations in 33 years.
The festivities peak on Saturday, the actual birthday of church founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.