Kiingi Tūheitia calls on all Māori to vote this year

By Bronson Perich

This year's Koroneihana (coronation) celebration is like no other.

The proceedings are being streamed online and are being watched by thousands.

Kiingi Tūheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII had three key messages in his annual address.

'Vote! E te Iwi Māori!'

The king reiterated his stance on voting. 

“Vote with your mana motuhake," the king says.

"Vote with your arohā, vote because your mokopuna need you too."

In the 2017 general election, the king threw his hat in with the Māori Party, and hoped that others would follow suit.

This year, the king's message was nonpartisan, showing no indication of who he would be voting for at all.

"I respect everyone's choice," the king says.

"You all know my thoughts; we need strong Māori voices in parliament. 

"We will only achieve that if all Māori vote."

Maintaining kotahitanga

The seventh in line from the first King, Pootatau Te Wherowhero I, encouraged Māori to stay united.

"To our leaders, please continue to work together, and continue to lead, with your heart," the king says.

"All good things come from an honest and pure heart."

He says everybody is better off when everybody works together.

Looking after each other

The king encouraged Māori to keep looking after each other. 

He recalled the teachings of Pootatau Te Wherowhero I, saying that not even Covid-19 can take away the law, faith, and love.

"So when my tūpuna (Pootatau Te Wherowhero I) said we should hold on these things [law, faith and love], and forsake all else, I believe he was right," the king says.

"Looking after the wellbeing of our people is the most important task our people have.

A new award to encourage artists

The king also announced a new award, the Kiingi Tūheitia Portraiture Award. Its purpose is to encourage people create portraits of their ancestors.

The winner will receive a cash prize of $20,000.

"The challenge has been made, kia kaha!" the king says.

He ended by reaffirming his commitment to serving as king and encouraged all to be safe, kind, and full of arohā.