There is already controversy surrounding Will and Kate’s Oz tour. The King of the Maoris, Tuheitia Paki, has called off Will and Kate’s visit to Turangawaewae Marae because KP only allotted 90 minutes for the visit, and made a bunch of demands, and it would have broken proper protocol.
Will and Kate wanted to respect the indigenous people, but more importantly follow in the footsteps of the Queen and Philip who visited the Maori in 1953, but the Maori king refused to see them under the circumstances and now it’s a big thing.
The New Zealand prime minister tried to put it on Tuheitia by saying that the 90 minutes was longer than any other engagement, but it “wasn’t long enough” for Tuheitia’s people and that “90 minutes… was… quite generous”. That sounds like a diss to me. I don’t think it’s inappropriate for the Maori king to refuse to break tradition and protocol for the Cambs. If the Maori didn’t feel they had the proper time to complete the necessary protocols for the visit, and if not fulfilling the protocols would have been a no-no in their culture, then they have the right to refuse to be visited by the Cambs.
The Maori King has released a press statement, go here to read the whole thing. It says in part:
The Government-appointed Committee overseeing the visit never met with any officials from this Office and when we did seek to contact them, they were not willing to be negotiable or flexible in their approaches to the King. The King was never asked anything, he was simply told.
Our full reasons for declining the visit were conveyed to the Royal couple in a personal letter from Kiingi Tuheitia that was couriered to the Palace several weeks ago.
A senior rangatira [official] noted that the King and the Kiingitanga [the royal line] are not some carnival act to be rolled out at the beck and call of anyone, and nor should we be prepared to compromise our tikanga [customs] to fit into a pre-determined schedule.
After reading this statement, I side even more with the Maori. Again, they shouldn’t have to change their protocols and customs to fit the Cambs in. You wouldn’t expect the Queen to change her protocols to fit in someone else, who is below her in station, would you? No. Give the same respect to the King of the Maori. He shouldn’t have to bend to a Prince—who is not even next in line to the throne—and his wife. I think the Brits are making this into a some big snub by the Maori king, but in reality KP and Will and Kate are the ones who were being disrespectful by not giving the Maori the proper time to fulfill their culture’s protocols.
Translations in the press release courtesy of this article.