King Tuheitia attends Poukai

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

The Māori King attended his first Poukai at Maurea marae since receiving his kidney transplant last year. A carved tree was unveiled and 13 women received moko kauae and two men received mataora in honour of King Tuheitia's 10-year reign.

A frontline of women gracing moko kauae welcomed King Tuheitia - his first public engagement amongst the tribe since his operation.

Maraea Cossey (Waikato, moko kauae recipient says) says, “He is the face of Māori, who connects us, unites all tribes across the country together.  I was saddened to hear he was really sick, but, we are here to elevate and support him and his whānau and the King Movement to continue.”

15 marae locals took part in a mokopapa held 3 weeks ago.  For Marley Matamua it was an opportunity to strengthen relationships.

Marley Matamua says, “This is gift to me that links me to my marae of Maurea and Horahora.  I've recently returned to my marae, tribe and sub-tribe.  I hold this to ease the way for my children and grandchildren to return to the marae, to the tribe.”

The Poukai was established more than 130 years ago to care for the widowed, bereaved and destitute.  The marae has carved one of its old trees, by master carver Tapaue Kiingi Tawhiao.  Named Te Whakahōnore it was unveiled by King Tuheitia.

Brad Totorewa (Waikato) Marae spokesperson, mataora recipient says says, “This honours King Tuheitia and his genealogical ties, including one of his ancestors, Te Aa and Pikiao and it’s a call to return. An owl once resided at the marae many years ago.  You see an owl on the carving.  That call is not for the owl to return physically, but it's to the guardians of the marae to return so our marae can be taken care of.”

No part of the tree was wasted.  Its offcuts were carved as a box and gifted to the other 28 marae where Poukai are held.

The Māori King is in good health and he is expected to attend next weeks' opening ceremony for Te Matatini in the Hawkes Bay.