Chief Uri Mataiapo Danny Mataroa : Reflections on Hereiti File’s vaka journey

Thursday June 25, 2020 Written by Chief Uri Mataiapo Danny Mataroa Published in Editorials
Vaka Marumaru Atua off Rarotonga. TOKERAU JIM 19112004 Vaka Marumaru Atua off Rarotonga. TOKERAU JIM 19112004

OPINION: Well written Hereiti. I'm sorry that you had to be shocked into your culture by being called a plastic Cook Islander but it worked, so really I'm glad it made you angry! (“What if we travelled north by vaka, not by plane?” June 14)

Reality of the matter is we are a plastic nation whether we like it or not. Before I explain, let me say this: In the real world, everything is based on a contract. Let's look at our history. When the London Missionary Society Missionaries arrived in 1821 to Aitutaki, and 1823 to Rarotonga, our Ariki were the Kings.

The missionaries recognised their mana and used this mana to convert our people by the thousands. These events opened our borders and trading ships entered our harbours.

The captains of these foreign ships brought alcohol and the Arikis did not want alcohol sold on their islands but these captains basically all said, “I do not recognise your Arikiship. You have no jurisdiction over me. I have my own Queen and her mandate is Free Trade to whomever I want.”

The Arikis thought, who is this Queen that she has so much mana over these wicked captains that even they obey her and she lives in a faraway country? And of all things, a woman?

After many years and meetings and discussions later, Queen Makea who was married to King Ngamaru Ariki of Atiu and two other Ariki from Rarotonga with the Arikis from Aitutaki King Tamatoa Ariki, King Teurukura Ariki and King Vaeruarangi Ariki, applied through the Governor of NZ, through the Foreign Office requesting to Queen Victoria, praying for the protection of the British flag.

On Sept 27, 1888, through Mr Exham, we became a British Protectorate. On the October 27, 1888, a Captain Bourke arrived on the HMS Hyacinth, raised the flag and did a 21-gun salute in Avarua, Arorangi, Takitumu and sailed to all the Pa Enua and was back to Rarotonga by November 6, 1888.

The British flag was raised on all the islands. Papers were signed by all the Ariki – Kings and Queen.

This signed document was the first contract of the British Protectorate which became a contract of Ownership. 1901, because of the distance, we were given to NZ Governmentt to “manage”; 1965 we became self-governing which only meant new management.

We became our own managers – not owners.

Nevertheless our first premier, the late Sir Albert Henry brought the Ariki kings and queens together and in 1966, formed the Are Ariki House of Ariki.

He put the Ariki to the same recognition and standing as Queen Elizabeth. He even changed the flag.

I have heard him say many times "If we do not recognise the mana of our Arikis, then we will always depend on outside help."

How true those words are today: 1978, when he lost his seat and Tom Davis came into power, one of the first things the Demos did was to take the Are Ariki, remove it from high standing and put it to the lowest office in Government and even created a Ministry for it which is now under the Ministry of Culture.

Then they created an oath of allegiance for the Arikis (our Kings and Queens) to swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth and her heirs, successors, officers and administrators which basically made a minister of the Crown their King of Kings.

This also gave the Prime Minister total power to sign away fishing and mining rights without consulting with anyone. This Oath of Allegiance is the updated version of the original contract that was signed by Queen Makea and others in 1888 – just in case we want to dispute that 1888 contract, the Oath of Allegiance will shut us down to submission.

So how do we solve that problem? Our Arikis need to get out of the Are Ariki and stand on their own feet.

One other solution is when I (or any of you) become the Prime Minister let us shut down the Are Ariki and get them to stand up on their own and be independent of the Crown.

All is not lost though. There is hope. At 12 noon on April 6, 2015, the late King Vaeruarangi Teaukura Ariki of Aitutaki read at a public gathering, Te Ui Ariki Ngateitei O Te Kuki Airani Letters Patent, revoking all those contracts that I mentioned above.

We just need to stand behind it to support it. I have a copy of that speech if you're interested.

Finally our Papa'a name, Cook Islands. That's right it’s a papa'a name. If any papa'a wants to be called a Cook Islander why not? It's their name!

They have every blood right to it. (Papa'a, by the way, means four layers of clothes).

It's the Maori name that we need to change. Kuki Airani is an insulting name to my intelligence as a Maori with passion in my heritage, history and culture. Kuki Airani is a coin word with no heritage, no history, no culture and no connection to any island.

I avoid saying that name unless I absolutely have to. That name does not unite us as a people.

Many names have been suggested as a new Maori name for our collective of 15 beautiful islands – about 140 names.

My favourite name is Atea, which means God.

Rangiatea (everlasting, or God’s heavens or sky), Maungatea (God’s Mountain), Tamatea (child of God).

Atea is easy to say and explain. Where are you from? I'm from Atea – the 15 Islands of God.

That name I believe will unite us as a people, Hereiti, if within the next five years we are able to address the two main issues that I mentioned: our Sovereignty through the Arikis, and changing our nation’s Maori name.

Our minds will also change on how we address our own issues that you mentioned, especially education.

I really appreciate your vast research and findings with our Taunga Tumu Korero Masters. As much as you may not speak or write fluent Maori, your good command in the English language will promote our Maori heritage.

Thank you, ma’ata I am the son of Enua, who was the son of Tere, who was the son of Ema, who was the daughter of Napa, who was the son of Tauei, who was the son of Oakirangi, who was the first wife of King Tinomana Enua Rurutini, who was the first King of Rarotonga to accept the Christian Gospel from the Tahitian London Missionary Society convert missionary in 1823 "Tumu e Kapu, Kapu runga, Kapu raro, no Atea, to papa – the origin of all the goodness that you receive, that you receive from above, that you receive from below, just remember – even the strong foundation of land that you stand on, belongs to God."

Te Atua te Aroa, Kia Orana e Kia Manuia, I am who I am, sincerely yours

Chief Uri Mataiapo
Danny Mataroa


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