“Ko te Atua tooku piringa; ka puta, ka ora.” I haere
Kiingi atu a Kiingi Tuuheitia ki Itaaria ki te tuutaki
atu ki a Poopaa Werahiko hei whakatutuki ai i
ngoona hiahia, otiraa i ngaa tongikura a ngoona
tuupuna. I hoki Kiingi mai ki tana iwi Maaori, me
te ngaakau e puurena ana i te aroha moo teenei
Poopaa a te iwi, me tana tono “Inoia ahau”.
The King’s meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis will reverberate throughout all of history, and the next generations will be calling it to memory often over the years to come. It was significant on so many levels, to so many people, for so many reasons.
By all accounts, this was a tipping point under Kiingi Tuuheitia’s reign. A tipping point is thought of as an impactful (often sudden) shift that alters the trajectory, making progress fluid and monumental. This visit to the Vatican brought a huge amount of positive attention to the Kiingitanga and is only one of many scheduled royal engagements with world leaders, and indeed many world leaders will come to Aotearoa also to meet with Kiingi Tuuheitia. Already, the royals of the House of Windsor have come to Tuurangawaewae Marae, along with Nelson Mandela, the King of Tonga and many other dignatories and leaders. About 900,000 New Zealanders we engaged around this positive kaupapa of the King’s visit to Italy, and of course the invitation was extended to the Pope to come to Aotearoa.
St Francis of Assisi (who the Pope chose to be named after) once said “Do what you can do – the possible, and soon you’ll find yourself doing the impossible.”
Many thought it wouldn’t happen, that it was impossible for the King to meet the Pope. Many couldn’t reconcile why this encounter was necessary and what would be achieved by the private audience, but indeed it was powerful and purposeful. It was one of three prophetically declared trips spoken of years ago for Kiingi Tuuheitia to secure. The Pope, the Queen of England and Israel’s holy leadership were seen as three critical engagements for the King Movement.
This visit to see the Pope was organised within months and came about quite swiftly. The King’s Private Secretary Rangi Whakaruru, Archdeacon Ngira Simmonds and the Te Toki a te Kiingi - Brad Totorewa were initially brought into action the plan. Archbishop Emeritus Sir David Moxon and Archdeacon Ngira then travelled to Wellington to meet Cardinal John Dew. This meeting was the catalyst to the Vatican trip being secured. Five months later, Kiingi Tuuheitia was sitting on a plane travelling to Italy for the very first time with a personal invitation to meet the Pope.
Anything is possible for a team of committed people
working together to realise a dream.
The meeting was significant because it continually reminds people in Aotearoa and those living abroad that the King does have influence, reach and access to people and places within the international community that other people don’t have. Can anyone hop on a plane, turn up at the Vatican and receive private access to the Pope (a leader of a movement of 1.2 billion people) and receive a reception only reserved for royals and presidents? The answer is no, but the monarch of an indigenous people group from Aotearoa
made it look easy. We went through six high-security checkpoints that day, and the doors just flung wide open for Kiingi Tuuheitia. It was so beautiful to witness.
Down every hall were stationed Swiss Guards offering a full salute as Kiingi Tuuheitia passed them. He was received by the officials and taken from room to room, making his way through the inner sanctum of the Vatican’s most beautiful quarters, with ancient sculptures, artwork and murals on every wall and ceiling. Again, we were granted access into parts of the Pope’s personal building that most have never had the pleasure of seeing, reserved only for royals and heads of state. We waited in a room with a pure white marble throne that rose high up to the ceiling. It looked like it had been sculpted by Michelangelo himself. We were told this was the throne that most of the previous Popes sat in when receiving guests, but this Pope, Pope Francis, is different. He reportedly is driven around in a Ford Focus and refuses to live in the Pope’s designated palace, choosing instead to live in more modest quarters among other priests, simply and without any fuss. This Pope is quite down to earth, which is why he is seen as being the “the people’s Pope”. He washes the feet of refugees and kisses them, poses for selfies, goes on Twitter, used to drive a Harley Davidson, is a fan of Argentina’s San Lorenzo football club (Argentina being his homeland), swaps his skullcap with kids and even accepts drinks from strangers.
We were told that we would have 20 minutes with the Pope – enough time to share koorero from both sides, exchange gifts and have the Pope pray over taonga we had brought. We were also told prior to leaving that the King could only bring in three other people with him (Makau Ariki Atawhai, Te Puhi Ariki Nga Wai Hono i te Po and Rangi Whakaruru). When the Pope was ready to see us, he requested a personal one-to-one time with the King. This was highly unusual, very personal and never happens this way, but Kiingi Tuuheitia had a private time with the Pope that lasted for 25–30 minutes.
That private audience, according to Kiingi Tuuheitia, was a very precious time. The two men shared how they entered their public roles in a similar way. Both didn’t know that this would be their life’s calling. Both were surprised, humbled and somewhat reluctant. Both men recognised the humility resident within each other’s stories. The bond was made, and both men enjoyed each other’s company and spoke frankly and honestly with no officials present. Then the Pope invited Makau Ariki Atawhai and Te Puhi Ariki Ngawai into the room. Both wore black headscarfs as is the traditional diplomatic tikanga for waahine – Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu herself also wore one. They had time with the Pope as a whaanau, which was beautiful in and of itself, showing the Pope’s awareness of the importance of family in an indigenous context. Archbishop Emeritus Sir David Moxon, Archdeacon Ngira Simmonds and myself were invited in also. This was an unexpected surprise for the three of us.
Walking into the main room and seeing the Pope, in the flesh, standing there holding his hand out to connect with you, wearing a smile on his face with bright full eyes was simply extraordinary. The grandeur of the room, the height of the ceiling, his welcoming spirit, his humility, the surreal nature of how we got to stand in that place, to be in Italy in the first place, the sacredness of this moment and the joy on Kiingi Tuuheitia’s face was just overwhelming – I stood there with complete gratefulness absorbing the moment.
The sense of deep wairua in the room was palpable.
I looked across to Nga Wai – we all felt this same sense of awe and amazement.
Nga Wai would later describe the experience in one word: “Indescribable.”
We were then given a gift by the Pope – a limited-edition medallion with the Pope’s royal seal. Then Kiingi Tuuheitia led the Pope over to explain the taonga Renata Te Wiata had carved for him. The Pope, through his Italian translator, explained his great joy in the gift.
The Pope then gave the King his gift – a bronze taonga with the words ‘Siate messaggeri di pace’, which translates as ‘Be messengers of peace’, fitting perfectly with the values of the Kiingitanga and Kiingi Tuuheitia’s vision.
After a time, we said our goodbyes and again shook hands with the Pope and exited the main hall. As we were leaving, he said “Please pray for me.” We fulfilled this request at Mahinaarangi in our Paimaarire karakia when we returned from the haerenga.
After the visit to the Pope, we were granted access to meet with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Cardinal Secretary of State and a prelate of the Catholic Church – he carries the mana of holding the second-highest position of leadership under the Pope.
After the trip to the Vatican, we came away elated. We rejoined the rest of our entourage back at the hotel and had a beautiful haakari with speeches and celebration toasts.
The following people also accompanied the King on his trip to Italy: Sir Harawira Gardiner (Chancellor of the Royal Court), Terence Hohneck (Director of the Royal Court), Rahui Papa, Helen Kotua (Chief of Protocol), Ivan Liu Kwan (Special Envoy and Representative to the USA), Ora Papa and Awhina Uruamo (Medical Officer to the King).
While in Italy, the King also visited the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Anglican Centre in Rome, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museum, St Peter’s Basilica, Florence and Cassino. The Pantheon was a favourite tour destination – a temple originally built in 27 BC to honour the Roman gods. The Pantheon is said to be the most well preserved ancient Roman monument in the world and is the world’s oldest structure still in continual use. Kiingi Tuuheitia paid his respects there to the fi rst King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II. The famous artist Raphael and many famous Italian poets are buried here also. The Pantheon has no windows – the only entrance of natural light is via an 8-metre wide circular opening in the ceiling (the oculus). Once a year at midday on 21st April, the way the building has been designed allows a beam of light to shine from the oculus directly on the entranceway of the structure. Every year, the Emperor/King would stand there, and when the light shone on them, it gave them the appearance of being god-like. Sir David Moxon shared this amazing story with Kiingi Tuuheitia as he stood in the entranceway of the Pantheon.
It was a truly beautiful place to visit.
Another special place we visited was the basement of Santa Maria church in Via Lata. The crypt/dungeon-like place was not open to the public, but we had been granted access through Sir David Moxon’s networks. This was an extrodinary waahi tapu, said to have been the prison that housed Paul who, whilst in chains, penned some of the New Testament in the Paipera Tapu. Archdeacon Ngira brought to light the very deeply spiritual connection of standing in that place, linking it to Kiingi Tuuheitia. Here we were, standing in Rome, standing in an ancient underground prison cell amidst stone rubble, standing in the place where living words were first written that would then travel to the ends of the Earth and would eventually become part of the Bible that would be held over his head as his Crown (by the Kingmaker Anaru Thompson) on 21 August 2006.
This realisation was a beautiful moment for all of us who stood in that room.
After our visit to St Paul’s crypt, we then enjoyed a lunch together at Rome’s highest restaurant – Minerva Roof Garden – where we sampled some of Rome’s most delectable kai. Many people have also asked what type of food we ate while in Italy . Pasta and pizza was a staple for us, but also buffalo cheese, raw meat slices, artichokes, tiramisu (a coffee dessert) and gelato.
The King was also hosted by the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See Melissa Hitchman for a formal luncheon also attended by the Australian Deputy Head of Mission Alison Edye, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corp Ambassador George Poulides of the Republic of Cyprus, the New Zealand Ambassador to the Holy See Nigel Fyfe and the New Zealand Ambassador to Italy Anthony Simpson.
The entire trip from start to end was filled with wairua. A special acknowledgement needs to be made to Te Toki a Te Kiingi - Brad Totorewa, who was critical in ensuring the cultural safety of the King and who really brought the importance of upholding tikanga to the fore. Brad called for karakia before the haerenga and afterwards. Ngaa Marae Toopuu Executive Committee also were critical in covering the haerenga with karakia. This tikanga protects the tapu and preserves the mana of the King and the Whare Ariki whilst abroad.
Acknowledgements should also be made to Sir David Moxon for his help from start to finish on this haerenga, showing himself to be an intelligent walking encyclopedia of ancient and biblical koorero. It was also remarkable to see the unification of faith communities (Anglican and Catholic)
coming together for the benefit of the Kiingitanga. For indeed it was Kiingi Taawhiao who said, “E toru ngaa taonga kei te kapu o tooku ringa. Ko te Ingarangi, ko te Weeteeriana, ko te Roomana. Homai taau ka whaa, kopi katoa i a au.”
Issue 70 | Te Hookioi - Pages 3 to 8
Kaituhituhi - Jade Hohaia