Specifically, he referenced Rāhiri, the tūpuna of Ngāpuhi, to acknowledge Kiingi Tuuheitia’s whakapapa links to Ngāpuhi. The comment was met with laughs from many sitting on the pae.
Hone Sadler also spoke of Ngāpuhi’s mātauranga (knowledge) of Te Tiriti and He Whakaputanga. It is what the iwi bring to the table in these national conversations, he said.
And Matua Hone is correct. Ngāpuhi are the kaitiaki and first signatories of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. They have consistently maintained that they never ceded sovereignty, a position now supported by the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal, and thousands of pages of evidence.
The stage two tribunal report on their Treaty claim was handed over to Ngāpuhi in December last year. More than 10 years in the making, the report is based on 26 weeks of hearings and more than 500,000 pages of evidence, relating to 415 individual Treaty claims.
Whilst Minister of Treaty Negotiations Paul Goldsmith has said previously that he is committed to settling Ngāpuhi’s Treaty claim, a target date has not been set. He is only the latest in a long line of ministers to have made similar commitments to settling with Ngāpuhi.
Kotahitanga without compromise
Hinerangi Himiona, kaimahi mo Ngāpuhi nui tonu, left Te Tai Tokerau the night before the hui, travelling with her daughter, three other wāhine Māori and their whānau. They stayed in Tāmaki Makaurau for the evening before setting off in the morning.
She says the hui was powerful.
“Absolutely amazingly positive and beautiful and full of hope and love.”
Whilst many of her whānaunga up north don’t recognise the King, her mahi working with iwi across the country has given her a greater appreciation of the Kiingitanga and Waikato Tainui, Himiona says.
She is grateful for the Kiingitanga and the amount of organisation that went into pulling hui-aa-motu together.
“My own personal experience, and certainly my perspective is that Ngāpuhi, at some point, we need to work with other iwi. We need to align, we need to collaborate, to become a unified Māori voice.”
What Himiona is talking about is kotahitanga, the main message to emerge from wānanga at hui-aa-motu. A message which was carried through by iwi Māori to Rātana celebrations this week.
Kotahitanga is a well established concept in te ao Māori. Meaning unity, togetherness and collective action, it has been used previously in Māori political movements. The Kiingitanga movement itself was seen as kotahitanga, but more recent examples include the establishment of the Māori Battalion and the Māori Women’s Welfare League.
Himiona says coming together as iwi doesn’t mean anything needs to change at home.
“We’re still going to have our own things, but actually we are much stronger together as ngā iwi o te mōtu.”
A wero for the new government
After Hone Sadler finished speaking on the paepae, Ngāpuhi’s voices came forward, singing a newly composed waiata specifically for the occasion.
Their voices carried strength and unity. Unbeknownst to the thousands of people watching in-person and online, they’d only had a few rehearsals.
Written by Mutunga Rameka, Himiona says the waiata firstly spoke of Ngāpuhi’s response to the Kiingitanga’s call for unity, secondly a commitment to “fight the government for the work that they’re doing to damage Te Tiriti and He Whakaputanga because we are the kaitiaki.” Lastly, the waiata asks for people to come together to Waitangi this year.
“Bring your contribution to our hakaari so we can feast,” she says.
For Ngāpuhi, Te Tai Tokerau is their home, holding a place of significance, it is their tūrangawaewae.
Now it’s their turn to host iwi from across the country. As the mauri is passed to Waitangi, the echoes of hui-aa-motu linger, and Ngāpuhi and the Kiingitanga will unite in laying down a wero for the new government – kotahitanga in action.