Tributes flow for Te Arawa leader Pihopa Kingi

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Tributes continue to flow for Te Arawa leader Pihopa Kingi who passed away yesterday. Te Arawa Iwi leader, Sir Toby Curtis says Kingi was an exceptional leader and instrumental in the return of the 13 Rotorua lakebeds to all Te Arawa tribes.

Te Arawa elders honour their treasured stalwart and champion of tribal affairs.

“He was a paramount chief for Te Arawa who stood and was among our most esteemed leaders,” said Te Arawa Lakes Trust chair, Tā Toby Curtis. “A great orator of the tribe.”

“He was an exceptional leader directing from the front,” said family spokesperson Monty Morrison. “But then I would see him working in the background for the people.”

Pihopa led by example, who took care of his Ngāti Whakaue people at Ohinemutu where he resided.

“His home is 100 metres away from the marae, therefore, he was always involved in the affairs here,” said Morrison. “From his home to the marae, to the church. So he only had one focus, looking after the tribe and community.”

Pihopa took up the legacy left by his father Raniera Kingi, the first secretary of the inaugural 1924 Te Arawa Board. Pihopa was instrumental in the return of the lakebeds to the tribe in 2006.

“He was the negotiator for Ngāti Whakaue,” said Tā Curtis. “He was one of the elders of Te Arawa how was well versed in the English language. Because he was articulate in his speech, officials easily understood his viewpoint. He easily won their support.”

Preparations are underway at Te Papaiouru marae for the rival of Pihopa tomorrow. He will spend the night with his whānau at his home.

Pihopa Kingi will be carried the short distance from his home to his beloved marae, Te Papaiouru, accompanied by an ope of warriors led by exponent Wetini Mitai-Ngātai.

Thousands are expected to pay tribute during the course of his funeral over the next four days.