CI Times Weekly | Current Issue 255 | 16 June 2008

Proclamation by the Ui Ariki

The Royal Proclamation by the Ui Ariki Ngateitei o te Kuki Airani was presented on the verandah of the Makea Nui palace in Taputapuatea on Thursday 12 June. In a show of unity, the Ui Ariki Ngateitei o te Kuki Airani sat impassively as their ‘arataki iki’ia’ Makea Vakatini Ariki delivered the message on their behalf.
Gathered on the verandah were: Makea Vakatini (Te Au o Tonga), Makea Karika (Te Au o Tonga), Kainuku Kapiriterangi (Takitumu), Tararo Maeva (Mauke), Temaeu Teikamata (Mitiaro), Tetava Poitirere (Nukuroa), Vaeruarangi Teaukura (Aitutaki), Mere Macquarie representing Makea Nui (Te Au o Tonga), Mr Haurua representing the Ariki of Rakahanga. Rongomatane Ada Ariki (Atiu) and Te Fakaheo Trainee Ariki (Manihiki) were also signatories but not present at the ceremony.
Witnesses to the ceremony were members of the Makea family on whose land the Royal Proclamation was being presented and interested parties including the Police Commissioner and a senior policeman.
The Ui Ariki Ngateitei were guarded by Eruera Nia of Ngati Makea who after the formal ceremony invited any person who wished to speak to come forward and do so.
Hon Ngamau Munokoa stepped forward claiming not to be speaking as a politician but as a member of Ngati Makea. Aunty Mau recalled how Makea Nui had donated land for this and that purpose and she objected to an outsider inciting the Ui Ariki to behave in this way. She defended the government and expressed her disappointment in the turn of events.
Another objector told the Ui Ariki the people ran the country now and said when politicians don’t do the right thing they can be voted out, but the Chiefs cannot be removed. Later, some of the Ariki said this attitude typified the disrespect for them as people let alone as the indigenous royalty of the country.
An observer later asked whether the Arikis who have awards from Queen Elizabeth II would consider returning their honours?
However, the Ui Ariki are not without supporters for their cause with a Rutaki gentleman, Tui Mataiapo coming forward to congratulate them on taking a stand and encouraging them to carry on with their quest. Makea Vakatini also defended the Ui Ariki saying perhaps the objector had no parents to have taught him any manners.
By nature, the Ui Ariki are usually ultraconservative people, so their unprecedented move shows the depth of discontent as to their treatment by successive Administrations and the community as the original Atu Enua and source of the land.
Since the early days of colonialism, the Ariki had a strong sense of noblesse oblige and would allow the use of their land for public purposes. By ancient tradition, all land is given on the implied condition that if the recipient has no further use for it, the land reverts to the original Atu Enua, usually the Ariki or one of his Rangatira or Mataiapo.
However, they are disappointed at the lack of regard by those in whom they have entrusted the care of the land. For instance, when a chiefly family stopped the bulldozing of the gravestones in the church grounds originally made available to the London Missionary Society by Makea Nui on behalf of her tribe.
The destruction was authorized by church officials who defied the Ngati Makea saying it was ‘their land’ and could do whatever they wanted. It took a court challenge before the officials backed down and stopped the desecration.
The steady encroachment into their prerogative as the original Atu Enua has really upset the Ui Ariki who now want their lands returned to their control. Some land is no longer used for public purposes but are not returned to the original Atu Enua because the Administration claims it as ‘crown land’.
Origins of the Ariki tradition
The establishment of the House of Ariki was a brilliant gesture by Papa Arapati Henry and the CIP government in 1966 where the House of Ariki is enshrined in the Cook Islands Constitution, the supreme law of the Cook Islands. There is also the House of Ariki Act 1966 which says the Ui Ariki ‘shall consider such matters relative to the welfare of the people of the Cook Islands …and it shall express its opinion and make recommendations thereon…’.
However, it is important to remember that these laws are not the original source of mana for the Ui Ariki that is traditionally expressed as having originated from Pokerekere, the metaphorical beginning of time.
The Ariki on Tumutevarovaro can trace their chiefly ancestors back for many centuries with Kainuku and his people coming from the Marquesas at or just after the great warrior Toi and his men built the Ara Metua inland road. Archaeologists have estimated that to be at least 1000 years before the next wave of colonization from other parts of Polynesia.
The three Makea lines trace their lineage back to Karika originating from Manu’a and another great chief called Tangiia from Rangiatea who had embarked on colonizing voyages. Oral tradition says Tangiia and Karika arrived around the same time with Tangiia and tribe settling in Takitumu intermarrying with Ngati Kainuku while Karika and his tribe settled in Te Au o Tonga. All the Ariki from the other islands also have their own proud traditions that also stretch back for centuries.

Headlines : Times 255 16 June 2008
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Headlines : Times 231 17 December 2007
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Headlines : Times 230 10 December 2007
-A travesty of personalities!
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Headlines : Times 229 03 December 2007
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Headlines : Times 222 15 October 2007
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Headlines : Times 220 30 September 2007
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