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Ambassadors for Peace

UPF-Oceania Delegation Meets with Maori Leaders

New Zealand - A historic meeting took place between leaders of UPF in the Oceania region and the Kiingitanga of the Maori people in New Zealand on Sept. 26, 2014, to discuss the possibility of hosting an Asia Pacific Leadership Conference in New Zealand.

This unprecedented meeting could materialize due to the similarity in ideals between the two and represented a pioneering cooperation that aims to bring together people of many races and backgrounds. Though there are many steps required to bring it to fruition, there are no doubts about its potential; along with the hopes and dreams of many that it represents.

The meeting started with a warm welcome at the Turangawaewae Marae, which is one the most important maraes (sacred religious and social gathering places) in New Zealand. Upon arrival, the UPF contingent was honorably greeted by the Maori Queen herself, Te Makau Ariki. After a unique exchange of greetings based on the Maori tradition, the contingency was guided through a tour in and around the marae.

One thing that attracted the attention of the leaders was the unique item that was laid together with the other valuable treasures of the Maoridom in the altar; the item was the gift that Mother Moon gave to Whatumoana Paki, the eldest son of the current Maori king, when he attended the recent World Summit in Korea. It symbolizes the high esteem that the Maori people hold towards Mother Moon. In return, the contingent expressed their respect to King Tuheitia, the current Maori king of New Zealand, along with their sincere desire to wish him well in health and spirit. They were also grateful for the guidance of Mr. Oscar Brad Totowera, representative of the Kiingitanga, to arrange this special meeting and lead the contingent through the sacred land of the Maori people.

The UPF contingent was then brought to visit the Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development run by the Kingiitanga. The leaders were welcomed by the Director of the College, Dr. Sarah Jane Tiakiwai. She proceeded by giving a brief introduction about the college and its history. She then guided the group through the facility and its accommodations. The leaders were also given the opportunity to address the students and introduce UPF along with its principles and ideals.

After the visit at Waikato-Tainui College, the group then drove towards Hamilton City to visit Te Wananga O Aotearoa (Maori New Zealand University). The group was warmly welcome by the school staff with a hongi (a Maori way of greeting by pressing each other’s nose). After the formal welcoming, the leaders were then cordially invited for lunch that was prepared by the school. Right after lunch, Brad Totowera, the manager of the 6 Te Wananga O Aotearoa campuses, made a short presentation to the leaders about the Kiingitanga movement and its history. His presentation was followed by a presentation about UPF by Rev. Greg Stone, UPF Oceania regional secretary general. The presentation was followed by a meeting between Brad Totowera, Rev. Stone, Rev. Julius Gicole and Rev. Insoung Kwun to discuss and address key points of the Asia Pacific Leadership Conference proposal.

During that meeting, the rest of the group toured the college accommodation facilities. At the meeting, initial agreements were made between UPF and the Kiingitanga, and both parties are looking forward to positive and engaging action steps that will lead towards the conference.

Though the meeting had ended, the day continued with a visit to Ibis and Novotel Hotel, where the contingent was given a resounding assurance of the capability of the Kiingitanga to host guests and participants for the proposed conference and any future events that the UPF and the Kiingitanga may collaborate on. The contingency was overwhelmed with the hospitality shown during these visits.

Though this is but a first step to bring the common dreams of the two to reality, it is hoped that the courteous and mutual relationship between UPF and the Kiingitanga of the Maori people in New Zealand may continue to grow and serve as a strong framework for bringing together people of different races, countries and backgrounds.

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