By Jon Stokes and NZPA
The Maori Queen, one of Maoridom's most respected leaders, has died.
Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, died at home in Ngaruawahia, near Hamilton, today after a long battle with failing health.
The longest-serving head of the Kingitanga movement was 75 ...
Photo credit: Maori Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu, August 29, 2000. Picture / Kirby Wright
... Dame Te Ata was the Kingitanga movement's longest-reigning monarch and its first Queen. She became the movement's leader on May 23, 1966 when the 34-year-old Piki Paki (nee Mahuta), a mother of seven and daughter of the late King Koroki, was crowned.
Dame Te Ata was the sixth in line of direct descent from King Potatau 1, proclaimed the first king of the Kingitanga movement in 1858.
It has been traditional for the new leader of the King movement to be named before the old leader is buried.
In the March 2003 Mana magazine article, Dame Te Ata said she had been pondering her successor at the head of the Kingitanga movement: "My feeling at the moment is that the people are ready for a male heir to take over. But I haven't made up my mind yet."
Regarded as politically astute, Dame Te Ata was one of the quiet influences on Tainui to negotiate its 1995 settlement with the Crown over land grievances ....
... She headed a movement which was founded in the 1850s to unify Maori, and protect Maori land and customs.
By then iwi leaders from around the country, began debating the idea of having a king, and the tough task of who should be given the title.
After numerous hui the head of the prosperous Waikato people, renowned leader and warrior, Potatau Te Wherowhero, became the first Maori King in 1858. It was one of the first attempts to create a pan-Maori group.
It however was severly damaged by the response from the colonial government which used concerns with the movement to implement one the largest of the New Zealand Wars, the Waikato War of 1863-64.
It resulted in the confiscation of more than a million acres of Maori land and the exile of the then King Tawhiao and his supporters to the region later to be named the King Country.