The University of Waikato commemorated its special relationship with the Kīngitanga in a new way this year, with Kīngitanga Day celebrations on Thursday 10 September live streamed to a worldwide audience, as well as being hosted in person on both its Hamilton and Tauranga campuses.
The Covid-19 cap on attendee numbers and the growing trend towards online events created an opportunity to reimagine Kīngitanga Day, in line with the precedent set by the Koroneihana (Coronation) celebrations last month.
Uptake of the virtual option was enthusiastic, with more than six hours of live and recorded footage streamed via University and Kīngitanga channels reaching tens of thousands of views.
The keynote address by former New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd inspired both the in-person audience and viewers with his reflections on being a ‘recovering racist’, and his experiences as Mayor while trying to enact change in Māori representation.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai was encouraged by the feedback received and paid tribute to the team who worked tirelessly to bring the virtual Kīngitanga Day programme to life.
“I really want to acknowledge the support of staff and students who volunteered their services and time. The Kīngitanga Day theme, Kotahitanga ki te wheiao, was evident in the way both the online and in person programmes came together seamlessly.”
On the Hamilton campus, Te Āhurutanga Māori Leadership Programme teina led a number of events. Their brief, in line with the day’s theme, was to provide activities allowing tauira to express kotahitanga in a safe and fun way.
Five Halls teams and one whānau team competed in Ki o Rahi sports for bragging rights in the annual Kīngitanga sports competition. The final clash between two Bryant Hall teams saw ‘Easy Clap’ walking away with the win. Te Ara Piko Wānanga, an Amazing Race event, had teams racing through a 1.8-kilometre journey, completing brain teasers and activities along the way. Meanwhile, the ever-popular Kīngitanga Day hāngī proved a hit.
Both Te Ara Piko Wānanga and Te Aro Piko Taniwha (a guided cultural walking tour of the Hamilton campus) were aimed at learning and enjoying the Māori history and hidden gems around the campus. These events, combined with a kōrero from curator Hollie Tawhiao on the Kotahitanga exhibition in the University’s Calder and Lawson Gallery, gave guests an insight into the University’s collection of significant artworks associated with the Kīngitanga.
Students in Hamilton were enthusiastic about the day's activities, saying they reflected a spirit of whakawhanaungatanga and coming together in a safe atmosphere despite the restrictions of physical distancing.
In Tauranga, the University campus hosted a range of activities, including a harakeke workshop with Whaea Jo Ranapia from Huria Marae, and a viewing of the Kīngitanga: The Untold Story documentary series. Guests enjoyed a hāngi lunch in Te Manawaroa while watching a kapa haka performance by tauira from Te Wharekura o Mauao.
Te Toka Māori student mentor and third-year law student, Jaime Parekowhai-Gudex, helped facilitate a Fill Your Kete competition, and says the event rated as one of the best she’s experienced.
"The Kīngitanga programme provided tauira an awesome opportunity to come together to honour the Kīngitanga movement and the power of kotahitanga. Big mihi to our Te Toka Coordinator, Nadita Beauchamp, for pulling everything together so the day ran smoothly in Tauranga Moana."
The day was also an opportunity for some of the University’s academic divisions, faculty and schools to formally introduce their Māori names. Te Wānanga o Ngā Kete (Division of Arts, Law, Psychology and Social Sciences) and Te Wānanga Pūtaiao (Division of Health, Engineering Computing and Science) took the opportunity to celebrate the names they’ve been gifted, along with Te Kura Whatu Oho Mauri, (The School of Psychology) and Te Aka Mātuatua - (The School of Science).
Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao staff members, Associate Professor Tom Roa and Dr Haki Tuaupiki, provided much of the kōrero on the meanings of the names, which highlight the story of Tāwhaki’s quest to acquire the three baskets of knowledge.