21 Aug 2006

Thousands gather as ceremonies surrounding the burial of the Maori Queen get underway

7:16 am on 21 August 2006

About a thousand people have already arrived at Turangawaewae marae in the North Island town of Ngaruawahia, for the burial of New Zealand's Maori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu.

Hundreds more are streaming through the gates as a karakia comes from inside the marae.

And there is an air of expectation as mourners wait to hear the announcement of Dame Te Ata's successor.

Her casket was closed just before sunrise.

Andrew McRae reports from Ngaruawahia.

"Today's funeral is due to attract tens of thousand of people, with many likely on the marae, lining the seven metre route to Taupiri and at the sacred burial ground itself. Dame Te Ata's final journey will be her waka Tumanako flanked by two other Tainui waka and followed by at least twelve others. Those wanting to attend the funeral are already flocking to the area to gain a vantage point to witness this historic occasion, which will also see the naming of the new leader of the Kingitanga. The new Ariki will be annointed with the same bible used by all six past Maori monarchs."