Following a private visit by King Tuheitia in August 2018 to the Cook Islands, an official letter of invitation was extended by the Prime Minister Henry; this is the first official visit by the King since ascension to the throne in 2006.
The intention is to strengthen the strong cultural and historical bonds between the Cook Islands and Aotearoa, and reinforce the covenant signed between the Prime Minister and the King at TurangawaewaeMarae in 2015 during the Cook Islands’ 50th Anniversary of self-governing celebrations.
Yesterday he was welcomed to Rarotonga; today he is to be welcomed to Aitutaki where he will be taken to the land gifted to former Kingitanga leader Princess Te Puea Herangi in 1947. It is expected he will discuss plans to develop the empty site.
The Cook Islands has a particular connection to the Tainui confederation of tribes, whom the King Tuheitia is directly aligned to, and to the island of Aitutaki which the Tainui tribe trace their ancestral origins.
The visiting delegation includes his household including his wife, sons, daughter and grandson: Ariki Tamaroa Whatumoana, Ariki Taituruki Korotangi, Puhi Ariki Nga wai hono it te po, Ariki Hikairo, Brad Totorewa (Te Toki o te Kiingi), accompanied by staff of the Office of Te Kiingitanga, Helen Kotua and Tui Kaumoana.
A group of Tainui supporters comprising a Kapa Haka group and Kaumaatua also accompanied the group.
Are Ariki and Te Koutu Nui and students of Apii Arorangi were present to witness the grand occasion. – Melina Etches
The official program includes:
Friday-Saturday: Visit Aitutaki, and historic and prominent sites of significance
Sunday: Church service at Ngatangiia CICC
Tuesday: Kia Orana Dinner hosted by Cook Islands government.