Māori welcome at UN for Clark
21 Apr 2009
New Zealand’s Māori King is to lead a delegation to New York to join an official welcome for former NZ prime minister Helen Clark when she takes up her new job with the United Nations.
Ms Clark left New Zealand at the weekend to start her new role as head of the United Nations Development programme - the UN’s third most senior position.
The official welcome is to take place next week (27.04.09), and will include a wero by well known Māori orator and story teller, Joe Harawira, followed by a powhiri (welcome ceremony) by King Tuheitia. A New Zealand kapa haka group based in New York will also take part in the ceremony.
King Tuheitia’s attendance at Ms Clark’s UN welcome follows his presence at her valedictory speech in parliament when the Māori royal family presented the former prime minister with a precious feather cloak.
It is expected that Ms Clark may wear the cloak at the ceremony.
The cloak that once belonged to King Tuheitia’s mother, the late Māori Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu, was placed on Ms Clark’s shoulders as she bowed out of a 27-year parliamentary career, nine of them as prime minister.
While King Tuheitia and his delegation from the Tainui tribe are in New York it’s expected that the king will issue a special invitation to President Barack Obama to visit New Zealand.
It is understood that he will ask former US president Bill Clinton to pass on the invitation which will include a suggestion that President Obama visits the king’s base, Turangawaewae marae near Ngaruawahia in the Waikato region.
Clinton first met the Māori King when he visited in 1999 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Auckland. He was the last US president to visit New Zealand.
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