The Maori King Movement or Kingitanga is a movement that arose among some of the Maori tribes of New Zealand on the 2nd of May 1858 to establish a symbolic role similar in status to that of the monarch of the colonising people, the British.
The position of Maori monarch is a non-constitutional role with no legal power in New Zealand, but it is a symbolic role invested with a high degree of mana (prestige). Since the 1850s the role has been vested in the Tainui iwi (tribe) who agreed to guard the position when it was created. The current Maori monarch, Tuheitia Paki, is descended from the first Maori king, Potatau Te Wherowhero, and was elected in 2006. His official residence is Turongo House at Turangawaewae marae in the town of Ngaruawahia.
The Kingitanga movement and its influence has expanded since its establishment and it is widely recognised and respected by Maori in many parts of New Zealand today.
The position of Maori monarch is not hereditary in principle. The monarch is appointed by the leaders of the tribes involved in the Kingitanga movement on the day of the previous monarchs funeral and before the burial. To date, however, all Maori monarchs have been direct descendants of Potatau Te Wherowhero, the first Maori king, and each monarch has been succeeded by a son or daughter. With each successive monarch, the role of Potatau's family has been entrenched, although after any reign ends there is the potential for the mantle to be passed to someone from another family or tribe if the chiefs of the various tribes are in agreement. Thus far, though, the monarchy has been hereditary in effect.