Story: Kīngitanga – the Māori King movement

Page 6. Korokī, 1933–1966

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Crowning of Korokī

The kingship was passed on to the eldest son of Te Rata, Korokī, who reluctantly accepted, and became known as Korokī Te Rata Mahuta Tāwhiao Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, the fourth Māori king. He was crowned on 8 October 1933. Te Puea Hērangi continued her influence, arranging a marriage for him with Te Atairangikaahu, the daughter of her brother, Wanakore Hērangi.

Official engagements

A young King Korokī subsequently endured a public life of official engagements. His first major appearance was at the celebrations held at Waitangi in 1934 to mark Governor-General Lord Bledisloe’s gift of what is now known as the Waitangi Treaty grounds. Korokī led thousands of visitors onto the grounds.

His first recorded public speech was on 18 March 1938 at the opening of Tūrongo meeting house at Tūrangawaewae marae, Ngāruawāhia. At Tūrangawaewae he entertained Allied officers during the Second World War, and other important visitors, including a young Queen Elizabeth in 1953. It is said that he was up much of the night encouraging the people in their work readying the marae for her visit. Queen Elizabeth returned the hospitality by gifting the Chrysler she arrived in to the Māori royal household.

Korokī's interests

While Korokī attended numerous poukai (annual visits to Kīngitanga marae), tangihanga and other tribal functions, he could also be found working alongside his people in the gardens, or, with his propensity for mechanics, repairing vehicles. He promoted literacy among adults and education for children.

Korokī's final years

As Korokī got older he was beset by health problems and looked to others such as his wife, adviser and scholar Pei Te Hurinui Jones and Tūrangawaewae marae carver Piri Poutapu to represent him. Under the guidance of Te Puea, Korokī’s daughter Piki also took an increasingly prominent role as a representative of the Kīngitanga. King Korokī died at Ngāruawāhia on 18 May 1966.

How to cite this page:

Rahui Papa and Paul Meredith, 'Kīngitanga – the Māori King movement - Korokī, 1933–1966', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 1 October 2022)

Story by Rahui Papa and Paul Meredith, published 20 Jun 2012