Māori markets, a three-course meal served in te reo, and a keynote speech by Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon were on the cards last week as the University of Waikato celebrated Kīngitanga Day and Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.
Kīngitanga Day, an annual event that recognises the University’s unique connection with the Kīngitanga and Waikato-Tainui, was celebrated across both Hamilton and Tauranga campuses and saw the convergence of key cultural influencers on university grounds.
Under the theme Kotahitanga – Unity, Kīngitanga Day provided a platform to unite cultures across both campuses and the wider community.
“The University of Waikato is unique in that we are the only University to have a Māori name,” says Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori.
“Our name acknowledges the tribal land on which the University’s Hamilton campus is located, as well as the wider Waikato region.
“Part of Kīngitanga Day this year was to not only acknowledge our cultural distinctiveness, but to embrace and share our culture, and all other cultures who share the campus with us.”
The event started with a pōwhiri and karakia, followed by an opening address by Dr Tiakiwai and a keynote speech from Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon.
Throughout the day attendees were treated to various activities, from cultural boat tours on the Waikato River and bus tours in Tauranga, to market stalls and hangi.
Guest lectures were also hosted by researcher and The Non Plastic Māori blogger Tina Ngata, as well as writer and historian Dr Vincent O’Malley.
In conjunction with Kīngitanga Day, activities ran throughout the week on campus as part of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.
Dr Tiakiwai says the fact Kīngitanga Day fell within Te Wiki o te Reo Māori was fitting since the University has played a key role in the revitalisation of te reo for a number of years.
“Te Mata o te Arero was the name given to our Te Wiki o te Reo Māori programme of activities this year,” says Dr Tiakiwai.
“This name was gifted by Professor Pou Temara and it’s a name that pays homage to the contribution of former Professor, Te Wharehuia Milroy, who played a crucial role in the survival of te reo Māori not only on campus but throughout Aotearoa.”
Like Kīngitanga Day, events ran across both Hamilton and Tauranga campuses for the week, including games in te reo, cultural narrative tours of the Tauranga campus, and a Māori themed menu created and served in te reo by MasterChef New Zealand winners Kasey and Karena Te Awa Bird.