The Maori King Movement, or Kingitanga, is a movement that arose among some Maori tribes of New Zealand in the 1850s to establish a symbolic role similar in status to that of the monarch of the colonising people, the British.
Since the mid-1800s the Kingitanga has been a force in New Zealand society. The movement combines spiritual and political elements which conserve the "turangawaewae"
(standpoints) of the past with practical leadership in the contemporary Maori world.
The position of Maori monarch is a non-constitutional role with no legal power in New Zealand, but it is a symbolic role invested with a high degree of mana (prestige). Since the 1850s the role has been vested in the Tainui iwi (tribe) who agreed to guard the position when it was created. The current Maori monarch, Tuheitia Paki, is descended from the first Maori king, Potatau Te Wherowhero, and was elected in 2006. His official residence is Turongo House at Turangawaewae marae in the town of Ngaruawahia.
The stunning images used in this stamp series were sourced from the collection of major artworks by Fred Graham called Nga Pou o Potatau and were acquired by the Waikato Raupatu Lands Trust in perpetuity for Tainui Iwi. The collection is a significant celebration of the Kingitanga movement and speaks also of the richness of whakapapa, history, symbolism and metaphor. Potatau Te Wherowhero, the first Maori King, was a pivotal figure in binding past and future visions - as represented in the artworks.
This special stamp series depicts three significant works within the collection that are linked with the first King. These pieces are based on three well known whakatauaki (proverbs) that Potatau was attributed as saying and continue to have relevance to followers of the Kingitanga movement today.
Date of issue: 2 May 2008