Letter to the Editor 24.08.19
Updated: Aug 30, 2019
These comments (originally posted on Facebook) were published by the Cook Islands News media outlet on Saturday, 24th August 2019. The comments were made in response to an article published by CI News regarding the conclusion of the 48th Ui Ariki annual conference, and the ariki's use of the term"aronga mana" [lit. authority group; traditional leadership] and the identification of all taonga (titles) other than ariki as "subordinate". The ariki continue to elevate themselves as "kings" and "queens" - these comments are a prelude to a more comprehensive paper to be published in the near future.
"Aronga Mana is noted in the constitution; they are holders of subordinate titles under the Ariki... 'we need to be careful about created customs'". This definition of aronga mana endorsed by the are ariki is a created custom.
In the 70's when the koutu nui submitted their customary practices for review by the are ariki, the ariki were quick to reject F. J. Moss' observation that the mataiapo were in reality the most powerful class who had a measurable influence upon the ariki.
The are ariki also rejected the involvement of the mataiapo beyond confirming the ariki's (kopu ariki's) decision re: investiture, preferring instead to elevate themselves above the mataiapo (yet again).
And yet, there is more than enough evidence to show that there were key figures among the mataiapo tutara who held the customarily defined authority to investigate and confirm the selection of an ariki. In fact, there are letters preserved by the Land Court signed by the ariki, mataiapo, and other notable figures in Cook Islands administrative positions which state the exact opposite of what the current ariki (and the 5th house of ariki) suggest.
There is no need for the ariki to "refer back to their Kopu Ariki and matakeinanga [to] determine and endorse their investiture practices" because those practices are already defined under Peu Maori. Why does the current House of Ariki continue to ignore this?
The investiture process for high chiefly titles, namely ariki, was established with Tangiia Nui and the formation of the marae/tapere/ngati system on Rarotonga.
Court records show ample evidence, along with oral history of those involved, that there is a kau taunga consecrated to the work of akamarokura, namely: POTIKITAUA, TAKAIA, AU ma TAURUA. These mataiapo tutara and taunga have an akinanga at the two koutu taito, namely: Ara I Te Tonga and Pu Kuru Va'a Nui - Archaeological surveys conducted at Ara I Te Tonga beginning in 1897 attest to this fact. Oral history given by Taraare sometime in the 1860's shed further light on the matter regarding investiture. Subsequent visits by scholars like Roger Duff again confirmed the existence of a kau taunga comprised by the aforementioned taonga. Several individuals testified to this custom over the years to the Land Court and yet it was blatantly ignored, just as the current system ignores it today.
To this day, none of the present ariki's investitures are compliant with Peu Maori. These discussions are nothing but an attempt at self-preservation. Truth will out.
Mouria Ngati Au
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