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No. 5 (Spring 1953)
– 60 –

Government Prepares for
MAORI RECEPTION OF QUEEN

Every sizeable Maori settlement from Lake Taupo to the East Coast will send a haka team of seventy together with supporters to greet the Queen in Rotorua next January, said Mr John Te Herekiekie Grace, organiser of the Maori royal reception, to Te Ao Hou recently. Of the two thousand official guests of the Government to Rotorua a large percentage would be the actual haka performers, he said.

Although arrangements for the Maori receptions at Rotorua and Waitangi were by no means finalised, Mr Grace was prepared to describe the arrangements that had been made so far (August 18). Responsibility for the Maori side of the tour lies with a central committee in Wellington, consisting of the Minister of Maori Affairs (chairman), the four Maori members of Parliament, Mr A. G. Harper, Director of the Royal Tour and Secretary of Internal Affairs, Mr T. T. Ropiha, Secretary of Maori Affairs, and Messrs Mason Durie and Pateriki Hura. Executive officer of this central committee and organizer of the Maori receptions is Mr John Grace himself.

From the Queen's point of view, Rotorua was the best spot for the major Maori reception, partly because her father, the late King George VI and the Queen Mother met the Maori people there in 1926 as Duke and Duchess of York; partly also because she is to stay near Rotorua for a few days to relax after her strenuous programme further North.

At the time of the interview, Mr Grace had formed a reception committee in Rotorua containing representatives of Te Arawa, Ngai Te Rangi, Ngatiawa, Whakatohea, Whanaua Apanui, Tuhoe and Ngati Tuwharetoa. From this large committee a smaller core was chosen as a working committee. In addition there are subcommittees to deal with the various aspects of the reception: a catering subcommittee (presided over by Mr Addie Mitchell), an accommodation subcommittee (Mr Ruhi Pene), a finance subcommittee (Mr R. Alley), a works subcommittee (Mr A. J. Downes), a transport subcommittee (Mr D. N. Perry) and a ceremonial subcommittee under Mr Rei Vercoe.

The Government's plan is, according to Mr Grace, for the local people (those represented on the reception committee) to provide the ceremonial. To make the gathering representative of the whole of the Maori people, the Government's intention is to invite two hundred chiefs from other tribes to be present.

Having decided to have 2,000 representatives of the local tribes and the chiefs from the other tribes, the Government approached the Arawa people with a request to provide accommodation in nine maraes near Rotorua. The Arawa people agreed, and the Government is now making itself responsible for the costs of receiving these guests. The Government has made it known to the people, said Mr Grace, that others than those invited may, of course, go to Rotorua, but they go there on the understanding that they make their own arrangements for accommodation and transport. Emergency provisions may possibly be made for some additional guests.

Quotas of visitors for the different tribes within the Rotorua, Urewera and Taupo districts, have already been fixed and tribes have to keep within these. They provide mainly for haka teams and their supporters. The general purpose of these restrictions is not to place too heavy a burden on the Arawa who are to be the hosts, and who themselves have to be free to participate to the full in the reception, said Mr Grace.

Arrangements in the North are that the Queen will spend one hour at Waitangi on her way to Whangarei from Kaikohe. Half this time will be given to afternoon tea; the rest of the time will be shared between Maori and naval ceremonial. The character of the Waitangi ceremonial will not be exclusively Maori; it is for both races and will be attended by pakehas as well as Maoris.

In addition to these two Maori receptions Maori leaders will participate in civic receptions all over the country.