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New monarch at New Zealand's Maori

india Updated: Aug 21, 2006 08:23 IST
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New Zealand's indigenous Maori announced a new monarch on Monday during the funeral of Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, who died last week after a 40-year reign.

Dame Te Ata's eldest son Tuheitia Paki, 51, sat on a carved wooden throne, alongside the feather-cloak draped coffin of his mother during the funeral service at the Turangawaewae marae, or meeting place, at Ngaruawahia, south of Auckland.

Thousands of mourners gathered at Turangawaewae, including Prime Minister Helen Clark and other government heads, as well as representatives of governments throughout the Pacific Islands.

Te Ata's body was to be taken down the Waikato River by canoe later on Monday and then carried up Taupiri mountain to the royal burial site.

Her son would formally take over when Te Ata had been buried.

Te Ata, 75, headed the Kingitanga (King) movement which was founded during the colonial era in 1858, when Maori in the north of the country decided to set up their own monarchy in an attempt to stem the loss of land to British settlers.

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