29 Feb 2024

Māori Hui aa motu movement backed by Pacific leaders

4:47 pm on 29 February 2024
Kiingi Tuuheitia, Te Arikinui, at leader meeting in Fiji.

Kiingi Tuheitia and his daughter, Te Arikinui, attending the hui on Bau Island. Photo: Kiingitanga/Facebook

Pacific leaders have expressed support for the Hui aa motu movement launched by Kiingi Tuheitia at Turangawaewae Marae last month.

The roopu, including Tuuheitia's daughter Te Puhi Ariki Ngaa Wai Hono i te Poo, accepted an invitation from Fijian paramount chief Turaga Vunivalu to join traditional leaders from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and Hawaii.

Kiingitanga chief of staff Ngira Simmonds said while issues around economic development, globalisation and climate change were top of the agenda at the conference in Fiji, the discussion played out in a very 'Pacific' way.

"Don't think [of] 'a pre-prepared agenda', a board meeting, a board table. This is very Pasifika, seated in a circle, with the ariki each talking as they feel motivated to do so," he said.

On the topic of climate change, the king referred to a speech he made at his 2022 Koroneihana ceremony.

"The king talked about healing. One of the key aspects for us here in the Pacific is the conversation isn't just how we can change for the future.

"That phrase 'climate change' implies changing today for tomorrow. Our experience as te iwi Māori is we also have to heal the past, relative to Papatuanuku (earth mother) but also the oppression that we, the people of Papatuanuku, have faced. Healing our whenua, our maunga and awa will also heal us," Simmonds said.

He said it was also an opportunity to strengthen the mauri (life force) from last month's Hui aa motu at Turangawaewae and discuss the "journey of te iwi Māori, all our iwi and hapu, that we each take for the reinvigoration of our mana motuhake".

Fijian rangatira

Tribesmen gathering for the traditional opening of the Fijian Great Council of Chiefs. Photo: Kiingitanga/Facebook

Pacific leaders were interested in how their people, now living in Aotearoa, could help the movement.

"It was quite heartwarming. They shared the support of their people that live in Aotearoa. They made it quite clear that our Pacific whanaunga will and must stand with us. That was a really encouranging call.

"Knowing that solidarity from their leaders is with us is a strong, comforting notion," he said.

They will also be taking home some lessons on language normalisation.

"We can look to Fiji for example. You go to the supermarket to buy something, they're speaking Fijian. For those of us where our language is not the first language spoken, we can look to them.

"For our whanaunga in Hawaii, their journey with their language and cultural identity is very much similar to us as they face the oppression of a strong colonial force. But they're strong, just like te iwi Māori. It gives you courage and strength the continue," he said.

The next step, Simmonds said, was preparing for a larger gathering of Pacific leaders in Hawaii later this year.

"There are 28 nations being represented at the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture, Kiingi Tuheitia will be travelling up for that. As a part of that kauapapa the head of House of Kawānanakoa, Prince David, will be hosting another Hui Ariki. There we hope to expand the conversation a bit wider. It's all about support and whanaungatanga." he said.

The Pacific Traditional Leaders Forum (PTLF) and Pacific Festival of Arts (PACFEST) kicks off in June.

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