It has happened only once, so far, but no matter – the very special Maori King has made it a tradition

Alf has enormous regard for the indigenous people of this country, who – by virtue of the New Zealand Government signing some Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People – have officially been deemed “special”.

Alf’s mate and former Parliamentary colleague, Simon Power, said as much in a ministerial statement on 20 April 2010.

It was a ministerial statement he made as Minister of Justice on the matter of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and it explained why our wonderful government supported it.

Among other things, Simon Power said:

New Zealand’s support for the Declaration represents an opportunity to acknowledge and restate the special cultural and historical position of Māori as the original inhabitants—the tangata whenua—of New Zealand.

When you give people a special position, of course, you make them special.

And when they know the Government regards them as special, they go on to do wonderfully special things.

The Maori King, because of his lofty monarchical position, is even more special than his special people.

This became evident to all in a news item posted on the Herald website two days ago:

King Tuheitia will tonight host 150 dinner guests to mark the beginning of Matariki, and start a new tradition.

In the not-so-special circles in which Alf mingles, this is a remarkable thing the king has done, because normally something does not become a tradition until it has actually happened on several occasions.

It has become a tradition – for example – for Her Majesty the Queen to deliver a speech to all her people throughout the British Commonwealth on Christmas Day.

And it is a tradition in the Grumble household for all of us to stand proudly to attention, each of us clutching a Union Jack, while the speech is delivered.

Let’s check out the meaning of “tradition” as dished up by the Oxford dictionary people:

noun

1 [mass noun] the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way:members of different castes have by tradition been associated with specific occupations
[count noun] a long-established custom or belief that has been passed on from one generation to another:Japan’s unique cultural traditions

The celebration of Matariki year after year since anybody can remember can be described as a tradition.

But the mob of minions who surround the Maori King seem to be doing something very special by declaring the celebratory tuck-in on Friday an annual tradition.

Tonight will be the first time King Tuheitia will host a formal Matariki dinner at the Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development, but it will become an annual tradition, said his spokesman Rahui Papa.

This Papa feller said the event was intended to be be “very special and very unique” in its celebration of Kingitanga and the new year, topics important to the King.

“The beginning of the new Maori year is a huge part of it and it commemorates his official royal crest,” he said.

“The Matariki constellation is in the King’s crest, so there has been discussion around aligning with his crest and the six stars of Matariki ahead of the launch of his coronation commemorations in August.

“Given the calibre of those attending [tonight’s] Matariki dinner, this is such a fitting occasion to finalise and ‘seal’ the proclamation.

“The King’s Matariki dinner will become an annual event on the formal calendar of Te Kingitanga.”

Guests included representatives from every iwi, school leaders and keynote speakers Emeritus Professor Ranginui Walker and the South African High Commissioner, Ntombizodwa Msuthukazi Lallie.

Professor Walker – the way Alf hears it – discussed 155 years of the King Movement and its evolution, and Ms Lallie spoke about the achievements of Nelson Mandela.

Dunno if the achievements of Nelson Mandela sat comfortably with the Maori king and his minions, because they are apt to make a big thing of being special and see big advantages in drawing an ethnic distinction between Maori and the rest of us, whereas Mr Mandela was big on reconciliation between his own people and the whites who had oppressed them during the apartheid era.

Mr Mandela, moreover, is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

King Tuheitia looks an unlikely winner of a Nobel prize of any sort, although we can not discount Maori getting together to come up with plans for a Maori Nobel Prize, just as they like to have a Maori sportsman of the year, and a Maori singer of the year, and a Maori farmer of the year, and so on.

Frankly, Alf is bothered by this separatism, and is inclined to view at as akin to the apartheid which Mr Mandela denounced.

But he is willing to put his reservations aside to salute the very special people who can create a tradition, just by saying it will be one.

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