Crowning of the Queen
Ancient Custom of Maori Interest is Anointing with Oil at ….
The Queen of England is the only monarch now ruling to be anointed with oil at her Coronation. This means the British monarchy is the only one now left which has a Coronation custom going back in direct line to the days of Saul who, when found by Samuel as he searched for his father's asses, was anointed by him in a city in the land of Zuph.
Centuries ago, so it is told, Kings of England were anointed with oil given to St. Thomas of Canterbury by the Virgin Mary herself. This oil was contained in an ampulla shaped like a golden eagle, just as is the one used to-day.
Why does a priest who wishes to pour the blessing and consecration of God over a King or Queen use oil? This question brings us back to very old days and ideas—ideas which are still very familiar to Maori leaders to-day. It was believed that the anointing oil had a healing power, and that the natural healing power believed to be possessed by Kings and
In the Middle Ages, several British Sovereigns gave a considerable amount of time and energy to the use of their healing powers. They cured by the laying on of hands. There were fixed times for doing it. The number of patients was so great that the strain on the King must have been very exhausting. Obviously, this institution could not have gone on if there had not been a good number of cures. One gland disease called scrofula seemed especially curable by royal power; it used to be known as the King's Evil.
We are far away from London and were not able, most of us, to witness the sacred ceremonial of the Coronation. In England, many people were able to see the ceremony through television; this was allowed after, it seems, some protest by palace authorities who were reluctant to allow the sacred scene to be broadcast all over the world.
In New Zealand, in place of television, films are being shown allowing us all to be present in spirit, at least. In addition, of course, local celebrations were held all over the country.
Maoris were included in the New Zealand contingent attending the Coronation in London.
Certain Maoris were selected specifically to represent their own race at the Coronation: one from K-Force, one from the Air Force, two Army territorials, one Maori ex-serviceman, and
two members of the crew of the cruiser Black Prince.
One of the Maori members, Lieutenant Hiki Kohere, of Rangitukia, is following in the footsteps of his father, the late Lieutenant Henare Kohere, who was a member of the New Zealand party which visited England for the Coronation of King Edward VII, in 1902.
Lieutenant Henare Kohere was then a cadet at Te Aute College. Fourteen years later he was killed, while serving with the Maoris in France, in the First World War.
Lieutenant Hiki Kohere hopes to visit his father's grave on the Somme, and to photograph it during his visit.
One of the youngest members of the Coronation Contingent, 20-year-old Private Selwyn Bennett, is a member of a family which has given outstanding service to the Maori race and to New Zealand.
He is the youngest son of the late Bishop F. A. Bennett, and seven of his brothers served in the New Zealand Forces during the Second World War. Probably the best-known of the brothers is Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Bennett, a former commander of the Maori Battalion, and now of the Department of Maori Affairs in Wellington.
Selwyn Bennett in civilian life is a clerk at Rotorua. He was also chosen as the Contingent's photographer. He has taken a movie camera with him as well as the official “still” camera.
It would be false to believe, however, that the other members of the Contingent are all pakehas. There seem to be quite a number with some Maori blood, and, in particular, it was interesting to meet Warrant Officer Fenton, an engineer from Waitara, who is partly Maori, and was chosen as representative of the 2nd Field Regiment. Not only is he going to Britain with the Contingent, but his brother, Captain Fenton, who was serving in Korea, has been chosen also. This is coincidence enough, but it is odder still that he has another brother, Major Fenton, who was chosen for the Victory Parade in 1946.