In Waikato, thousands have gathered at Ngāruawāhia for the first of a two-day festival extravaganza, K160 that kicks off a year of celebrations of the 160th anniversary of the establishment of the King Movement. There were some who wanted to have a lasting commemoration to mark this historic milestone.
The consort of King Tuheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII was the first of several ladies to tattoo her lips.
She was followed by their daughter Ngā Wai Hono i Te Pō, to complete their chins tattooed chiseled two years ago to honour the 10th reign of King Tuheitia.
“This is an opportunity to commemorate the caretakers of the Movement,” said Brad Totorewa (Waikato). “To feel the flow of blood, the pain from the chiseling instruments, in recognition of the sweat and efforts of those who over the last 160 years, have upheld the mantle of The King Movement.”
Te Aorangi Dillion also hails from Mt Taranaki, who is following in the footsteps of her great-grandmother, Puarauehu Whakawiria, in honour of their tribal connections to the King Movement.
“This is very important to us,” said Dillion. “For us of Ngāruahine we uphold the spiritual faith and the King Movement is the political authority. My tribe has consented as well as my family, so this isn't about me, it's about the Kiingitanga.”
Some of the traditional Māori tattoo artists come from tribes across the country, to gift their skills to the descendants of the King Movements faithful supporters.
“Surprised, it's really wonderful,” said Dillion. “One of the elements we as Māori continue to hold on to is our sovereignty. We are here and passionate to showcase to the world our skills, our tribal links, our kindred ties. The King Movement is a good example of that.”
“The main principle underpinning the tattoo work today is to honour the 160 years that have passed and look to the next 160 years,” said Totorewa.
The Tuu Ka Hira Extravaganza will entertain the crowd this evening featuring popular musicians Maisey Rika, Ria Hall, Rob Ruha, Annie Crummer, the Koi Boys and Three Houses Down. There will also be a fireworks display.
Tomorrow's celebrations will feature a 160 flotilla of vessels on the Waikato River.