Today marks an important step forward for the future of the Kīngitanga Movement.
More than a hundred people gathered at Hopuhopu to discuss the shared histories and roles that have been the foundation of the movement for more than 160 years.
This is what He Huinga Taniwha have achieved, as event organiser Jason Kereopa describes, "I thought of going directly to the royal house to ask if they can help facilitate the event. I also went to the Tumuakitanga, as they hold special stories like the House of the Kīngitanga."
The programme funded by Waikato-Tainui used leaders to facilitate five different workshops that focus heavily on significant events that have shaped the history of Te Kīngitanga.
Te Kīngitanga movement was established more than 160 years ago as a way of uniting indigenous people of the land against colonisation and to preserve sovereignty. However, Waikato people eventually faced hard times, enduring a loss of over 1 million acres of land to the Crown.
"We hope that this is a space for our people and our stories to be discussed and commemorated," Kereopa says.
One of the workshops highlighted the establishment of the Kingmaker, or more commonly referred to as the Tumuaki, a concept that recognises the importance of the people from Ngāti Hauā.
The workshop acknowledged their tūpuna Wiremu Tamihana, the kingmaker who played an integral part in establishing the Kīngitanga.
Facilitator Tiare Teinakore, a descendant of Ngāti Hauā, is proud of her tribe's role, responsible for anointing past and future kings and queens, she says.
Kiingi Tuheitia anointed on Turangawaewae Marae in 2006
In 2006, during the funeral of Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu, Anaru Tamihana, a direct descendant of the first Kingmaker, was tasked with anointing Kīngi Tuheitia.
"We're so lucky as an iwi to carry out the duties that Wiremu Tamihana established and we continue that today," Teinakore says.
Kīngi Tuheitia's daughter Ngawai Hono I Te Po Paki was also part of the team facilitating workshops. Her kaupapa focussed on unifying all the diverse groups connected to Te Kīngitanga today.
The workshop was a fun and interactive activity that illustrated how iwi initially supported the establishment of the Kīngitanga. The workshop also brought kaumātua and rangatahi together to learn the importance of growing a united front.
There are more than 78,000 registered members within Waikato-Tainui. He Huinga Taniwha's main objective is to attract whānau who have not had the opportunities to adequately connect with their iwi.
Lanea Strickland, an uri of Ngāti Tahinga who currently lives in Rotorua, says, "To be honest we were one of the whānau that were disconnected from our marae and our kaumātua."