Hundreds have descended upon the Waitangi Treaty Grounds today as part of the pōwhiri to welcome the Kīngitanga and te Pāti Māori onto the marae.

The pōwhiri was an empassioned ritual, with hundreds attending as part of the Kīngitanga and te Pāti Māori contingent, and hundreds more watching.

1News reporters were in attendance to capture some of the action that preceded speakers on the paepae – for whom the prevailing message was one of kotahitanga – unity – among Māori, particularly in relation to the Government’s planned policies regarding te Tiriti o Waitangi and te reo Māori.

Te Arawa speaker Rehia Mihaka, of Ngāti Pikiao, said in te reo Māori Te Arawa stood with Ngāpuhi and was “here for unity”, saying the Government had “racist rhetoric” in his view.

“We should not fight amongst each other but we should fight together in unity.”

In 1823 Ngāpuhi attacked Te Arawa by surprise using muskets, the latter suffering a great loss of lives.

Today’s pōwhiri follows yesterday’s for opposition parties Labour and the Greens, and precedes one for the Government tomorrow.