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Te Atairangikaahu

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Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu
Queen of the Kingitanga
Te Atairangikaahu in 1975
Māori Queen
Reign23 May 1966 – 15 August 2006
Coronation23 May 1966
PredecessorKorokī Te Rata Mahuta Tāwhiao Te Wherowhero
SuccessorTuheitia Paki
Born(1931-07-23)23 July 1931
Waahi Marae, Huntly, New Zealand
Died15 August 2006(2006-08-15) (aged 75)
Turangawaewae Marae, Ngāruawāhia, New Zealand
Burial21 August 2006
SpouseWhatumoana Paki
Issue7 children: Heeni Katipa (née Paki); Tomairangi Paki; Tuheitia Paki; Kiki Solomon (née Paki); Mihi Gabrielle Paki; Maharaia Paki; and Te Manawanui Clarkson (née Paki)
Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu
HouseTe Wherowhero
FatherKorokī Te Rata Mahuta Tāwhiao Te Wherowhero
MotherTe Atairangikaahu Herangi

Dame Te Atairangikaahu ONZ DBE OStJ (23 July 1931 – 15 August 2006) was the Māori queen for 40 years, the longest reign of any Māori monarch. Her full name and title was Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu. Her title Te Arikinui (meaning Paramount Chief) and name Te Atairangikaahu (meaning the hawk of the morning sky) were bestowed when she became monarch; previously she was known as Princess Piki Mahuta and, after marriage, Princess Piki Paki. Her full whakapapa (lineage) name, linking her to previous Māori monarchs, was Te Atairangikaahu Korokī Te Rata Mahuta Tāwhiao Pōtatau Te Wherowhero.[1]



She was born to the name Pikimene Korokī Mahuta[1] within the marriage of Korokī Mahuta and Te Atairangikaahu Hērangi; Koroki Mahuta fathered older daughters, Tuura the younger of two, both by Tepaia, an earlier relationship. Te Atairangikaahu had whāngai-adopted siblings including Sir Robert Mahuta, whose daughter Nanaia Mahuta served as a member of Parliament and, from 2020 to 2023, foreign minister. Te Atairangikaahu was a descendant of the first Māori king, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, and succeeded King Korokī, becoming queen the day Korokī was buried.[2] She attended Rakaumanga Primary School and Waikato Diocesan School for Girls.

In 1952, she married Whatumoana Paki, whose father was from Waikato tribe Ngāti Whāwhākia and mother from the northern tribe of Te Aupōuri. They had seven children: Tuheitia Paki, Heeni Katipa (née Paki), Tomairangi Paki, Kiki Solomon (née Paki), Mihi Gabrielle Paki, Maharaia Paki, and Te Manawanui Clarkson (née Paki).[3]

In the 1970 New Year Honours, Te Atairangikaahu was the first Māori to be appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, "for outstanding services to the Māori people".[4][5] On 6 February 1987, Te Atairangikaahu was the first appointee to the Order of New Zealand[6] and her badge of the order bears the number 1. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Waikato University in 1973, and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Victoria University in 1999. In 1986, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of St John.[7] She was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal,[8] and in 1993, she was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal.[9]

In December 2005, she started dialysis treatment when her kidneys began to fail.[10] On 11 July 2006, she suffered what appeared to be a heart attack, and was admitted to intensive care in Waikato Hospital, Hamilton.[11] She was discharged from hospital later in the month, in time to celebrate her 75th birthday.[12]



Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu died on 15 August 2006, aged 75, at her official residence, Turangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawāhia.[13][14] Six of her seven children were present, with one daughter en route from Australia.[citation needed]

Her death sparked a week of mourning for Māoridom leading to her funeral on 21 August 2006. She is buried on Taupiri mountain in an unmarked grave, as are her ancestors, as a sign of equality with their people.[15] Queen Elizabeth II sent her condolences.[16]

Her widower, Whatumoana Paki, had wanted a tombstone for his wife, but members of the royal family do not have grave markings.[17] Instead, Paki paid tribute to his wife by planting a breed of purple roses, named specifically for Te Atairangikaahu, around a memorial stone outside their home.[17]


Queen Te Ātairangikaahu in New Delhi meeting India's then president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, 1975

Although the office of the Māori monarch holds no constitutional function, it is the paramount head of the Waikato federation of tribes with its parliament. In addition to this Te Atairangikaahu was an avid supporter of Māori cultural and sporting events and played an active role in local and global political events involving indigenous issues.[citation needed]

Her official residence was Turongo House in the Tūrangawaewae Marae complex coupled with Mahinarangi (official reception room for receiving dignitaries) and Raukawa iti (official guest house). She and her husband also resided at Waahi Pa in Huntly during her reign. He continued to live at their residence with his son until his death in 2011.[3]



Tuheitia Paki, her eldest son, was chosen during the mourning period as her successor with the help of a "kingmaker", after the consent of the chiefs of all the leading tribes was sought. Her eldest child, daughter Heeni Katipa, was the next leading contender for the position.

In contrast to the Monarchy of New Zealand, the Māori monarchy is both elective and operates outside New Zealand's constitutional structures. Consequently, the position is not automatically inherited by primogeniture as the New Zealand throne is. Te Atairangikaahu herself was her father's second daughter, though the eldest was not born to his wife,[18] so any of her children or a leading figure from another iwi could have been appointed.[19]


  1. ^ a b Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Te Atairangikaahu Korokī Te Rata Mahuta Tāwhiao Pōtatau Te Wherowhero". teara.govt.nz. Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  2. ^ "Traditional mourning period begins for Maori queen". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 16 August 2006.
  3. ^ a b Tahana, Yvonne (24 September 2011). "Obituary: Whatumoana Paki". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  4. ^ "New Year Honours List" (15 January 1970) 1 New Zealand Gazette 1 at 15.
  5. ^ "No. 45001". The London Gazette (3rd supplement). 30 December 1969. p. 42.
  6. ^ "The Order of New Zealand" (12 February 1987) 20 New Zealand Gazette 705 at 709.
  7. ^ "No. 50457". The London Gazette. 13 March 1986. p. 3576.
  8. ^ Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 51. ISBN 0-908578-34-2.
  9. ^ "The New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 – register of recipients". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  10. ^ "Maori queen on dialysis". New Zealand Herald. 6 January 2006. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  11. ^ Jon, Stokes (12 July 2006). "Maori Queen in intensive care after heart attack". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Maori Queen home for birthday". New Zealand Herald. 23 July 2006. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  13. ^ Stokes, Jon (15 August 2006). "Maori Queen dies after 40 years on the throne". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  14. ^ Lilley, Ray (16 August 2006). "Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu, Queen of New Zealand's Maori". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Public's final tribute to Maori Queen". TVNZ. 20 August 2006. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Text of Queen Elizabeth II's message of condolence to Mr Whatumoana Paki, Turangawaewae Marae, Ngāruawāhia, 17 August 2006". royal.gov.uk. 2011. Archived from the original on 6 November 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  17. ^ a b Tahana, Yvonne. "Maori King's father dies". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Four decades of our kind of queen; THEY SAY". The Dominion Post. 27 May 2006.
  19. ^ "New Zealand mourns Maori queen". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 August 2006.
Māori royalty
Preceded by Māori monarch
Succeeded by