The role of the Māori King is very different from the role of the Queen of New Zealand. Nevertheless, it shows how important the idea of a monarchy is. When Kīngitanga, the Māori King movement, was established in 1858, it was hoped that by creating a King, Māori tribes could deal with the settlers on a more equal political footing.
More than 150 years later, the role of the Māori King has evolved tremendously, but remains very important. Tuheitia Paki, the current Māori king, has no constitutional role, but has a significant symbolic role. The respect shown to him, and to his mother the previous Māori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu over the 40 years of her reign, demonstrates this. Far from being an outdated institution, the Māori monarchy remains very relevant today.
The Māori monarchy continues to operate today as an enduring expression of Māori unity. It plays an important cultural and social role in Māori communities and the wider New Zealand identity. This clearly demonstrates how versatile, relevant, and universal monarchies are.
Queen Elizabeth and her Governors-General have large social roles as well. While their constitutional roles are their most important, their cultural or community roles should not be forgotten.
The Kīngitanga movement demonstrates the appeal of monarchies. A monarch is a person of great mana, dedicating their lives to the service of others. He or she is a focal point for culture, and a living symbol for a people or nation. The Māori King operates exclusively on a cultural level. Queen Elizabeth II also operates on a cultural level, though she works on a constitutional level as well. The roles of King Tuheitia Paki and Queen Elizabeth II do not conflict. They enhance each other, allowing both monarchs to better represent New Zealand.