21 Aug 2018

Māori King speaks out about claims against his office

5:33 pm on 21 August 2018

The Māori King has finally spoken out about scathing claims directed at him, saying he's sad that people want to undermine his office.

Maori King

King Tūheitia addressed the crowd outside the meeting house Māhinārangi. Photo: Supplied by Kiingitanga

Hundreds gathered as the rain fell at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawahia, on the final day of the 12th Koroneihana celebrations.

It was King Tūheitia's first public speech since his former advisor Tukoroirangi Morgan openly criticised his leadership and the spending in his office, a week ago.

In the email, Mr Morgan said the king was a poor communicator, that his support was declining and that he was being manipulated by his chief advisor Rangi Whakaruru.

A media ban was in place at Tūrangawaewae Marae during the Koroneihana as a result of the email leak.

The Serious Fraud Office is currently investigating the King's Ururangi Trust for mis-spending.

King Tūheitia addressed the crowd outside the meeting house Māhinārangi.

"It is my duty to be straight on matters that effect the state of the Kiingitanga," King Tūheitia said.

"I am sad that there are a few people within us that wish to publicly undermined our office and therefore the Kiingitanga."

Mr Morgan's explosive email claimed Mr Whakaruru was paid a $250,000 salary, took out an $83,000 loan and had expensive cars paid for by the King's Ururangi Trust.

More than $100,000 has been spent on perfume, beauty treatments and clothes, according to Mr Morgan.

However, King Tūheitia did not address the claims specifically.

"I want to secure the stability of the Kiingitanga, so that my family and my successors no longer have to face external, evasive, demeaning actions that diminish the mana of the Kiingitanga."

Deborah Peace, who is at Ngāruawahia and listened to the speech, said he should make his position on the matter clear at some point.

"He chose not to that's fine that's his decision, but I think that maybe he should address it [the criticisms] at some stage," she said.

King Tūheitia went on to acknowledge Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, and his own people.

Earlier he told the crowd that he was filled with a great deal of joy at having reached 160 years of the Kiingitanga.

"Our ancestors created the Kiingitanga to foster unity and to help our people resist colonial oppression, and to oppose the further loss of our land."

Today marks the official 12th anniversary of the coronation of Kiingi Tūheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII.

Several iwi leaders this morning paid their respects to King Tūheitia and the Kiingitanga.

There was an outpouring of love as a number of religious leaders from the Methodist, Anglican and Ringatu faiths gave prayers and paid tribute to the King.

Tukoroirangi Morgan is overseas and did not attend the Koroneihana celebrations.