Māori King calls for greater unity from political parties as 17th Koroneihana ends in Ngāruawāhia

The Māori King has called for greater unity from political parties in his traditional speech wrapping up the 17th annual Koroneihana, or Māori King coronation, celebrations at Tūrangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawāhia.

Kīngi Tūheitia also questioned why Māori remain at the bottom of health and wealth statistics but praised what Māori had achieved in a very challenging year.

In a year where Māori communities along the North Island's East Coast and Hawke's Bay were decimated by Cyclone Gabrielle, Kīngi Tūheitia's appreciation of how Māori responded couldn't have been more abundant.

And he should know. In the aftermath of the cyclone, he took 100 of his staff and an array of equipment to help.

"Not only a boost for the wairua but they put together a big team to support our whānau in Wairoa. They had digger drivers, they had cooks, and so this is an opportunity for Te Kahungunu to come back to thank Tūheitia and Tainui Waikato," said Bayden Barber, Ngāti Kahungunu chairman.

The kotahitanga, or coming together of iwi from around Aotearoa, is an important part of Koroneihana, giving the leaders of Māoridom the chance to kōrero about the issues they face.

"It's the foundation of the Kīngitanga, the unity of all iwi, and what's really important in that is that the Kīngitanga is not a conquering monarchy, the Kīngitanga does not seek to take over other iwi. We do not conquer their mana, we do not take their rangatiratanga," said Ngira Simmonds, spokesperson for Kīngi Tūheitia.

What has been seen as an attack on Māori mana is the anti-co-governance campaign of rallies around the country. 

In an effort to discredit the fear-mongering claims of a Māori takeover, there's a new, but still old, dialogue.

Over the weekend there's been a small but significant change to the well-known phrase 'mana motuhake', previously a catchcry for Māori independence meaning 'by Māori, for Māori'. Now it is 'by Māori, for everyone'.

"We have always known mana motuhake works. We know that a 'by Māori, for everyone' approach is right," Kīngi Tūheitia said. "This is the model for us all. Letting te iwi Māori lead is good for this nation."

Simmonds said mana motuhake is not something to be afraid of. 

"The raising up of mana motuhake will see the raising up of all people in this nation as Māori assume their responsibility to care for others."

For the 17th time, iwi from across the motu have come together to celebrate Kīngi Tūheitia's reign. Thousands have attended over the past four days.