10 Nov 2011

Call for Maori leaders to refer to themselves as chiefs

7:51 am on 10 November 2011

A Far North Maori chief is calling for other Maori leaders to be brave and also refer to themselves as chiefs.

Te Runanga o Te Rarawa's chair Haami Piripi has self-proclaimed himself as an Ahipara Rangatira or chief since early 2000.

He says in the past he has been criticised for using the title.

Mr Piripi says the old traditions about who should be a rangatira have become redundant because of colonisation, and in contemporary society, Maori don't use that kind of hierarchical system anymore.

However, he says the mana or integrity of a rangatira is still alive today.

Mr Piripi says he's met many leaders who are worthy of being called a "rangatira".

But he thinks some people may have doubts, or be put off, because they don't want to appear as being arrogant.

In reaction, a lecturer on Maori culture says Maori leaders can choose to call themselves chiefs - it's their choice.

Te Wharehuia Milroy says in English - ranga means "leader" and tira means "of many".

He says the use of the word chief is rarely used today because the role of Maori leaders has changed since the arrival of Europeans.