Waikato District Council has taken the step to visibly pay respect to both the Maaori King, Kiingi Tūheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII and the British King, King Charles III, by unveiling their portraits side by side in its Council Chambers – with a ceremony to mark the occasion taking place on Friday 26 May.
Following the recent coronation of the British monarch and the new head of the commonwealth state, King Charles III, the unveiling of both portraits at the same time was deliberately coordinated to celebrate the diversity of Waikato District’s communities.
“Today we celebrated the reign of both kings, Aotearoa’s own Kiingi Tūheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII who presides over tangata whenua, the indigenous people of Aotearoa, and King Charles III who presides over 14 sovereign countries,” said Waikato District Mayor Jacqui Church.
“Both men hold the mana of their people and play an important role for us here in our country. Acknowledging their presence in Chambers will help create a welcoming space for community members to come into, be present and be heard.”
As the first and only Council to honour Kingi Tūheitia and the Kiingitanga by having his portrait hanging in Chambers, the unveiling has been marked as a significant accomplishment, not only for Council but for Kiingitanga, iwi, mana whenua and all Maaori staff.
“It was a clear celebration, a showing of Kotahitanga to honour the movement of previous Kings and the Queen of Kiingitanga who have had this moemoeaa, or dream, for many years.
“This has been a goal since my inauguration, so seeing it come to fruition was a momentous achievement,” said Mayor Church.
Being committed to creating liveable, thriving, and connected communities, the unveiling of both portraits exhibits Waikato District Council’s efforts to uphold that the beliefs and tikanga of those who call the district home are well represented.
This commitment is further displayed as Waikato District Council enters its first triennium with two elected Maaori ward Councillors, Tilly Turner and Paaniora Matatahi-Poutapu, as well as three general ward councillors who are also of Maaori ancestry - Clr Lisa Thomson, Clr Marlene Raumati and Clr Kandi Ngataki.
“We are privileged to be sitting on the whenua of the Waikato and to have a close association to the Kiingitanga, recognised locally as the esteemed face of mana whenua, iwi and Maaori,” said Mayor Church.
“I would additionally like to acknowledge local kaumatua Sam Toka for his guidance on this Kaupapa. With deep relationships across the Waikato, it was at Sam’s recommendation that we are celebrating both Kings today.”
On a journey to actively do better for its communities, Waikato District Council aims to continue its strong relationship with the Kiingitanga.
“I am grateful that my role as mayor for Te Kaunihera aa Takiwaa o Waikato has afforded me a direct connection to Kiingi Tūheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII. I look forward to building on this relationship throughout the remainder of my term.”