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The Pootatau Flag

Last week, Holy Trinity Cathedral was privileged to provide the setting for an historic service of thanksgiving to mark the return of the Pōtatau Flag to the care of its original people.

The service, which took place in the Bishop Selwyn Chapel on Thursday 8 August, was led by the Right Reverend Ross Bay, Bishop of Auckland and the Right Reverend Kito Pikaahu, Te Pīhopa o te Tai Tokerau. As part of the proceedings, the document transferring the ownership of the Pōtatau Flag was signed by Bishop Ross and the son of Kiingi Tuheitia, Te Ariki Tamaroa Whatumoana.

The Pōtatau Flag was transported to England in 1865 and returned to New Zealand in 1929 when the then Bishop of Auckland, Alfred Averill placed the flag in the Auckland War Memorial Museum for safekeeping. The Kiingitanga will now resume the role of kaitiaki.

In his letter of thanks to Bishop Ross Bay, Te Ariki Tamaroa Whatumoana said this:

The return of the Pōtatau Flag is a cause of great joy for us. We offer our heartfelt thanks to you on this significant occasion. One hundred and sixty-one years ago, a leader was chosen to be King on the shores of Lake Taupo, after significant consultation with many rangatira across Aotearoa. Shortly after that momentous gathering, our ancestor Pōtatau became the first King. Symbols of his prestigious office were created as the Kiingitanga grew and became the illustrious institution it is today. The Pōtatau Flag was one of those symbols; designed to reflect the mana and tapu of this sacred office. Its story and history continue to unfold as we learn more and more of its history.

It was a great honour for Holy Trinity Cathedral to play a part in such an auspicious and moving occasion, and to briefly welcome the Pōtatau Flag into our precinct as a living piece of history.

Photo credit: Merle Abbot

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