Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, Māori Queen, Queen of the Kingitanga
Pikimene Korokī Mahuta, 'Piki' as she was known, was born 23 July 1931 at Waahi Marae, Huntly, to Korokī Te Rata Mahuta Tāwhiao Pōtatau Te Wherowhero (1906-1966), 5th Māori King, of Ngāti Mahuta and Ngāti Korokī and his wife Te Atairangikaahu Hērangi of Ngāti Apakura and Ngāti Maniapoto, (her father Koroki fathered older daughters by Tepaia, an earlier relationship).
It was said that a shooting star marked her birth. Piki was two when her father succeeded her grandfather to become the fifth Māori king. She had an older sister, Tuura, who was Korokī’s child from a previous relationship. Of the two girls, their grandfather, King Te Rata, declared, ‘Tuura is mine. Piki belongs to the world. Teach her well.
She was a descendant of the first Māori king, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero (1770-1860)
Piki grew up around the Waahi Pā settlement, attended by hawini (those who looked after the royal family). Educated at the local Rakaumanga Native School, she was groomed for leadership from an early age. Her great-aunt, Te Puea Hērangi, prepared her to lead the Kīngitanga if the rangatira (chiefs) chose her for the role.
Whatumoana Paki (1927-2011) was born in Huntly 2 Feb 1927. His father was Wetere Paki of the Ngāti Whawhakia subtribe of the Waikato tribe. His mother Frances (nee Brown) was from Te Aupōuri, the northernmost Māori iwi in New Zealand.
A tono (arranged marriage) was expected for the daughter of the Māori king, but Piki was determined to choose her own husband. She fell in love with Whatumoana Paki of Huntly, who traced his whakapapa (genealogy) to both Waikato and Te Aupōuri, a northern tribe. Although he was the grandson of Hori Paki, a long-time servant of the Kīngitanga, Te Puea was entirely and publicly disapproving. The couple married in a small private ceremony in Huntly on 3 Nov 1952, a few weeks after Te Puea’s death. Princess Piki Mahuta became Princess Piki Paki and assumed the roles of wife and then mother. They had seven children
Her father, King Korokī, died on 18 May 1966. During the six-day tangi, 48 visiting rangatiram deliberated on who should succeed him. On 23 May 1966, on the day of Korokī’s funeral and in accordance with the whakawahinga (raise up) ritual, the bible which had been used to consecrate Pōtatau Te Wherowhero and subsequent Māori kings, was placed on the head of Princess Piki by Te Waharoa Tarapīpipi, a direct descendant of Wiremu Tamihana, the ‘kingmaker’ who had consecrated Potatau in 1858.
There is much more on the life of Te Atairangikaahu at the links above. She was the Māori queen for 40 years, the longest reign of any Māori monarch. She became the first Māori woman to be made a Dame of the British Empire when she was invested by Queen Elizabeth II. In 1987 Dame Te Atairangikaahu became a founding member of The Order of New Zealand, the country’s highest civilian honour. She also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Waikato in 1979 and an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Victoria University of Wellington in 1999. In 1986 she was made an Officer (Sister) of the Most Venerable Order of St John. One of Creative NZ’s supreme awards is named Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu in her honour.
On 15 Aug 2006, after an extended period of illness, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu died at Turangawaewae Marae, a month after her 75th birthday. Her six-day tangihanga at Tūrangawaewae Marae was comparable to a state funeral. People came in their thousands to pay their respects, so many that the New Zealand Defence Force was brought in to help the marae feed the visitors. Such was her mana and the outpouring of grief that her funeral was broadcast live, on three television channels, to more than 430,000 people. An estimated 100,000 visited Tūrangawaewae during the mourning period. Messages of condolences came from all around the world, including from Queen Elizabeth.
She is buried on Taupiri Mountain in an unmarked grave, as are her ancestors, a sign of equality with their people.
Video Footage (5:01) passage to Taupiri Mountain on Waikato River
Te Atairangikaahu's photo shared from Fair Use
Taupiri Mountain Urupa
* Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu (1931–2006), Maori Queen
* Whatumoana Paki (1927-2011), husband of Te Atairangikaahu
* Korokī Mahuta (1906–1966), Māori King, father of Te Atairangikaahu
* Tūkāroto Matutaera Pōtatau Te Wherowhero Tāwhiao (1822–1894), Māori King