Northern News (Emma Godwin) It was a proud morning for Moerewa’s Otiria Marae as a crowd of more than 100 welcomed new Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae to the Far North.
Sir Mateparae was sworn in as New Zealand’s 20th governor-general in August and Otiria was the first iwi, other than his own, to welcome him to their marae.
Sir Mateparae’s arrival was slightly delayed by a protest outside Moerewa School regarding the decision by the Ministry of Education to close its senior secondary class. The road was soon cleared and once the governor-general arrived, the powhiri went off without a hitch.[TW.com | We heard that protesters were disappointed that the Governer General turned his car around so as to not pass by – but he aha, that was clearly not his take.]
In his speech, Sir Mateparae said he had received many invitations to marae since assuming office but accepted the one from Tai Tokerau Maori Women’s Welfare League because Maori here played a key role in the first contact between Maori and Pakeha and led negotiations between Maori and the Crown.
“Ngapuhi is the largest iwi and were instrumental in creating this nation,” Sir Mateparae said. “As the Queen’s representative and in my own right I stand here before you today. Ngapuhi lost land and suffered economic and social hardships. But Ngapuhi have played a pivotal role in turning the tide. I wish you well in your settlement negotiations.”
Whakahoro (Sol) Te Whata, of the 28 (Maori) Battalion, A Company, and kaumatua and Sir Mateparae’s fellow army veteran Wiremu Wiremu were among the dignitaries to welcome him.
The Leadership Academy of A Company attended with their patron, Te Whata, and schoolchildren from six local schools performed the welcome under the guidance of Wiremu Wiremu.
Sir Mateparae’s affiliations are to Ngati Tuwharetoa and Ngati Kahungunu and he has links to Tuhoe and tribes in the upper Whanganui. He is New Zealand’s second governor-general of Maori descent.
Sir Mateparae served more than 38 years in the New Zealand Army and is married to Janine.