Kiingi Tuuheitia has closed today’s national hui at Ngāruawāhia by telling attendees the best protest right now is to “be Māori”.

“Be who we are, live our values, speak our reo, care for our mokopuna, our awa, our maunga, just be Māori. Māori all day, every day, we are here, we are strong,” he said to applause from attendees at Tuurangawaewae Marae.

In the address, he also reaffirmed his call for unity.

“This is just day one. Our time is now, kotahitanga is the way.”

The king took to the podium following a full day of focus forums that sought to collate kōrero from Māori on issues in relation to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, te reo Māori, rangatahi (youth), and the environment.

“We should use this time to build kotahitanga, today is about kotahitanga. We need to be united first and then decide our future.”

He pointed out that the next significant Māori gathering will be Rātana next week and then Waitangi in February and called on South Island-based iwi Ngāi Tahu and eastern iwi of the North Island to convene hui in their respective regions, saying that “the kōrero continues”.

“Let the four winds speak as we find our kotahitanga, ngā hau e whā, kia kotahi rā. After we’ve heard from the four winds, I call us together again.

“We can confirm our plans and then we can go. We need to get to some solution, it’s nice to see everybody but we don’t want to just kōrero. We need a way forward that brings kotahitanga to all of Aotearoa.”

He said the solutions need to make a difference for people.

“Jobs, housing, kai, education – these issues are bigger than politics. It won’t be easy, we haven’t fixed it yet, but there’s more mahi to do.”

King Tuheitia on Te Tiriti o Waitangi

King Tuheitia made clear his stance on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, saying “it gives tauiwi their right and confirms that we’re already here” and that the only version that matters is the one written in te reo.

“Sometimes I think I should get Te Panekiretanga (group of fluent te reo Māori speakers) to translate the treaty into plain English so those in Wellington can understand,” he quipped.

“There’s no principles, the treaty is written, that’s it.”

He said he wants the treaty to be entrenched in law but urged Māori to look closer to home for meaning.

“Don’t look at the courts to understand our treaty, look to the marae. Mana motuhake is ours, it will last forever. It lives in every iwi and hapū. Our tikanga shows us the way to keep us safe.”