The annual Kīngitanga Day celebrations at University of Waikato got off to a warm start yesterday, with staff attending a morning pōwhiri for guests at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.
Even though Kīngi Tuheitia himself is out of the country attending the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Kīngitanga was represented by Tumuaki Hone Tamihana who fills the role of Te Pou Whakawāhi, the person who will anoint the next leader of the Kīngitanga.
Established in 2009, Kīngitanga Day is observed by the University as a day of celebration, with classes suspended and staff released to take part in activities, events and workshops.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai says the day held special significance this year given the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
“The land on which the University sits was returned to Tainui by the Crown in 1995 and vested in Pōtatau Te Wherowhero title as part of the Waikato Raupatu Settlement Act. The Act, which contains an apology, was personally signed by Queen Elizabeth II in the presence of Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu. It is the only piece of New Zealand legislation that has been personally signed by the Queen.
“It is important that we acknowledge this unique connection and more broadly our relationship with the Kīngitanga.”
The Hamilton campus came alive with te reo, kapa haka and celebration yesterday, with activities for the entire University community on the Village Green including a hāngī lunch, kura performances and games of ki-o-rahi.
Presentations and workshops reaffirmed the importance of Te Mana o te Wai, celebrated Te Mana o Te Reo Māori and discussed the history of Rangiriri Pā. Te Kōhao Health Managing Director Lady Tureiti Moxon shared her wealth of experience working in the Māori health sector and reiterated the importance of including Māori in any health conversations.
A key part of the day was the presentation of annual Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarships. Awarded by the Waikato Regional Council and Waikato-Tainui, the scholarships support Māori students to undertake full-time undergraduate study at the University of Waikato with a focus on resource management or environmental protection.
Celebrations wound up with a gala dinner which celebrated ten years of Te Āhurutanga Māori Student Leadership Programme, with 90 students and founders of the programme from the last decade.
“This has been the first in-person celebration of Kīngitanga Day since Covid restrictions have eased and it has been a wonderful day of reflection and reiteration of our commitment to the Kīngitanga” Dr Tiakiwai says.