Today saw the biggest fleet of waka to commemorate 160 years of the Kiingitanga. However, it was Kiingi Tuheitia who took the limelight today as he helped lead an uplifting haka performance on the riverbank of Waikato.
Taane Te Koi who led the haka with other says, “He's normally on the other side watching. I did ask him if we were going to go forward, but he decided to stay and join in on the haka and that was special.”
“I took everything from him. Just listening on his taki and just jumped in to make it a little bit louder.”
The commemoration of 160 years of Kiingtanga history was celebrated by a fleet of 110 waka on the Waikato River.
Coordinator of the fleet Ikimoke Tamaki-Takarei says, “He wanted to be on his Tataiora waka. Honestly, we as paddlers are so fortunate to have our King with us.”
Kiingitanga supporter Kirimaaku Kihi says, “It's a first for me. Now I'm counting all the waka coming through. It's so awesome to see all the waka. Doesn't matter what size or shape them all look great.”
“Well a long time ago back in Rangiriri they did say that this is going to fall apart. The Kiingitanga will fall apart around us but it's still alive today”, Mr. Te Koi said.
However, the surprise of the day was the king’s grandson Hikairo who comforted his grandfather during the procession.
Mrs. Kihi says, “It's not the first time that we've seen him. He has been on our waka in Huntly. But it's really nice to see him with his grandfather.”
Back at his familiar podium, the King delivered a positive 15-minute speech.
An obvious highlight, a summon to the Queen of England through PM Jacinda Ardern, in what would be the first meeting between the two reigning monarchs.