Waikato Tainui estimate at least 10,000 people have been welcomed onto Tūrangawaewae marae to participate in an Aotearoa New Zealand national hui called by Kiingi Tuuheitia.
Kiingi Tuuheitia extended the invite last month after iwi leaders highlighted the need for a unified response to coalition government policy impacting Māori and the 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
The iwi say it is the largest contingent of people they have welcomed since the tangi of Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu in 2006.
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A flood of people during the pōwhiri saw groups dispersed to the riverside and a series of overflow marquees all fitted with large screens, water, seating and shade.
Iwi representatives from across the country have spoken on the pae with some composing waiata and haka specifically related to the coalition government and the hui.
Taiha Molyneux, RNZ’s Māori news editor writes that this is the first of a series of national Hui A Iwi touch point and a reference for Māori for many many years to come.
Kiingitanga chief-of-staff Ngira Simmonds said Ngāruawāhia was buzzing with activity.
“It’s quite logistical magic to pull this off, and there are several marae involved in not only the hui itself, but the night before.
“Seven of our marae will be hosting some of the iwi that will be coming from a long distance, so it’s a big undertaking.”
Simmonds said: “This hui will probably be a touch point and a reference for Māori for many many years to come, we will all be able to say that at this time in this place we all agreed to this, and what we all know is there is power in kotahitanga.”
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.