Te Atairangikaahu

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Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu
Māori Queen, Queen of the Kingitanga
Te Atairangikaahu.jpg
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, Ngaruawahia, 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)
Full name
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.


She was born 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 adopted siblings including Sir Robert Mahuta, whose daughter Nanaia Mahuta is a member of Parliament. She was a descendant of the first Māori king, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, and succeeded, King Korokī, becoming queen the day Korokī was buried.[1] She attended Rakaumanga Primary School and Waikato Diocesan School for Girls.

In 1952, she married Whatumoana Paki, whose father was from Waikato tribe Ngati Whawhakia 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).[2]

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".[3][4] On 6 February 1987, Te Atairangikaahu was the first appointee to the Order of New Zealand.[5] 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.[6] She was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal,[7] and in 1993, she was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal.[8]

In December 2005, she started dialysis treatment when her kidneys began to fail.[9] On 11 July 2006, she suffered what appeared to be a heart attack, and was admitted to intensive care in Waikato Hospital, Hamilton.[10] She was discharged from hospital later in the month, in time to celebrate her 75th birthday.[11]


Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu died on 15 August 2006, aged 75, at her official residence, Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia.[12][13] 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.[14] Queen Elizabeth II sent her condolences.[15]

Her widower, Whatumoana Paki, had wanted a tombstone for his wife, but members of the royal family do not have grave markings.[16] 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.[16]


Queen Te Ātairangikaahu in New Delhi, 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 Maori 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 Turangawaewae 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.[2]


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 Maori 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. By overlapping magisteria Te Atairangikaahu herself was her father's second daughter, though the eldest was not born to his wife,[17] so any of her children or a leading figure from another iwi could have been appointed.[18]


  1. ^ "Traditional mourning period begins for Maori queen". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 16 August 2006.
  2. ^ a b Tahana, Yvonne (24 September 2011). "Obituary: Whatumoana Paki". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  3. ^ "New Year Honours List" (15 January 1970) 1 New Zealand Gazette 1 at 15.
  4. ^ "No. 45001". The London Gazette (3rd supplement). 30 December 1969. p. 42.
  5. ^ "The Order of New Zealand" (12 February 1987) 20 New Zealand Gazette 705 at 709.
  6. ^ "No. 50457". The London Gazette. 13 March 1986. p. 3576.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "The New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 – register of recipients". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Maori queen on dialysis". NZ Herald. 6 January 2006. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  10. ^ Jon, Stokes (12 July 2006). "Maori Queen in intensive care after heart attack". NZ Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Maori Queen home for birthday". NZ Herald. 23 July 2006. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  12. ^ Stokes, Jon (15 August 2006). "Maori Queen dies after 40 years on the throne". NZ Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  13. ^ Lilley, Ray (16 August 2006). "Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu, Queen of New Zealand's Maori". Washington Post. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Public's final tribute to Maori Queen". TVNZ. 20 August 2006. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Text of Queen Elizabeth II's message of condolence to Mr Whatumoana Paki, Turangawaewae Marae, Ngaruawahia, 17 August 2006". royal.gov.uk. 2011. Archived from the original on 6 November 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  16. ^ a b Tahana, Yvonne. "Maori King's father dies". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Four decades of our kind of queen; THEY SAY". The Dominion Post. 27 May 2006.
  18. ^ "New Zealand mourns Maori queen". Sydney Morning Herald. 16 August 2006.

External links[edit]

Māori royalty
Preceded by
Korokī Mahuta
Māori monarch
Succeeded by
Tuheitia Paki