Columnist Thomas Tarurongo Wynne. Photo: CI NEWS/16040843
When we as Cook Islanders stand as uriurianga, or as our Aotearoa Maori pepeha, we have so many similar identifiers such as our Maunga, our ava, our Tapere, Ngati or Iwi, our marae, our Vaka and our matakeinanga or Kopu Tangata, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.
over the past three years to Maori and Pakeha recite their pepeha, it’s clear
that the two they omit are the two that still hold significance to us as iti
tangata in the Cook Islands or Avaiki Nui. They are our Mataiapo and our Ariki.
Constitutional House of Ariki was established by an act of Parliament, and in
the drafting of our Constitution, but we must be clear and acknowledge that
Ariki, our Mataiapo and traditional leaders have long existed prior to 1965,
and have constituted themselves on each Enua in their own way, and reflecting
the needs and designs of their people.
absence at times of Ariki in the pepeha of our teina in Aotearoa, should compel
us to hold tight to them as part of our identity, part of who we are, who we
were and who we hope to be in an ever changing world. Because they are the
taura that holds us to the past, that ties us to each other, and that reaches
into the future.
the House of Ariki is an integral part of our nation’s governance structure,
and one of its three pillars. Established under the Cook Islands Constitution
Act of 1964, it serves as a consultative body and plays a critical role in the
preservation of cultural heritage, Pe’u Maori and custom.
any three-legged chair, if we take one leg away it will not stand, and the
stability they bring to the legislative pillar of government and the spiritual
leadership of our churches, cannot be underestimated, or diminished, or we
been actively involved in the investitures of Tinomana Munro Ariki, Rongomatane
Ariki and Ngamaru Ariki, as well as the investiture of our Te Ava Mataiapo just
last year, our traditional leaders are the bastion against change and have held
the line for what is left of what preexisted the arrival of Christianity, and a
new God and new ways of living, values and ways of seeing ourselves, and our
place in that world.
have learned more about ourselves, and about who I am as a Maori than I have
through any books or lectures, by being a part of these aka’uruanga and
aka’koroanga of our traditional leaders.
protocols, karakia, chants, customs and practice give us a glimpse and allows
us to activate our Tupuna and all they were in 2023, and why again our traditional
leaders and Ariki are essential to not just our past or our present, but also
for the future that lives just beyond the horizon for us all.
lately, the House of Ariki has met to deliberate on matters such as land
tenure, traditional governance, cultural preservation, and social issues
affecting their communities, including climate change and depopulation, as well
as their own internal discussions of shifting from the ceremonial roles they
play to more functional roles in our communities, tribes, matakeinanga and kopu
are also faced with an ever-changing world and finding their place in it, and
this week, seeing the links between the people of Takitumu both here and in
Aotearoa shows where we can build that capacity and find relevance and function
by working together for a common goal and for a common good.
Ariki has over time built that relationship – and Aotearoa being the landing
place of numerous Vaka that left the Avana passage in Ngatangiia – shows that
together nothing is impossible. And that through our Ariki linking with Ngati
Kaungunu, the people of Paikea in Mauke or Whangara, Ariki in Aotearoa, Ali’Ii
in Samoa or Ariki that we link to in Kuporu (Taha'a) or 'Avaiki
(Tahiti Nui), together we are stronger, together we are Maori, Maohi and
Maoli, and together we can maintain and sustain our identity, language and
customs with our Ariki a critical part of making that happen.