Dame Cindy Kiro says her maiden visit to Waitangi as Governor-General was “incredibly moving”, after being officially welcomed onto the upper marae, Te Whare Rūnanga, on Friday.
It was her first time at Waitangi since becoming Governor-General in October last year.
Dame Cindy is the first wahine Māori to hold the role and has Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, and Ngāti Kahu whakapapa (heritage).
She said the event at Waitangi was in a way her iwi's opportunity to share her with the rest of the nation, which was a "wonderful kaupapa".
"It's incredibly humbling, it's so moving. I’ve worked hard to get the medals that I've got, but actually you can never take away the things that are etched in your heart.
"And I feel so connected to Tai Tokerau, because I'm from here."
Her visit to Waitangi comes on a significant day for the region, with May 13 the date the last Tai Tokerau signature was recorded on Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Ngāti Hine leader Waihoroi Shortland spoke of the significance of Dame Cindy’s appointment to the role as a wahine Māori.
“Today the personage of the queen, of the crown, and the personage of Māoridom are found in one person, how unique is that? You know, that’s the huge celebration that’s the huge recognition of this particular day.
"For the first time in the history of the Treaty both things are now included in the personage of one person."
The Māori King Te Arikinui Tūheitia Paki was there along with a group from Waikato Tainui, as was Defence Minister Peeni Henare, and a number of Northland leaders.
The Waikato Tainui group stood to sing a Ngāpuhi waiata, pairing it with a traditional Waikato dance - the kopikopi - which Dame Cindy said was a gesture of peace.
"I thought it was a marvellous sense of a celebration and coming together and the fact that iwi were willing to work together."
On Thursday, Dame Cindy was welcomed home to her marae, Mōtatau, south of Kawakawa to celebrate her becoming Governor-General. She is of both Ngāti Hine and Ngāpuhi descent.
Dame Cindy was presented with a kahukiwi cloak named Te Ata o Te Whenua, which originates from a Māori proverb by rangatira Nōpera Panakareao.
Former NZ First MP Shane Jones told Te Karere the meaning behind the cloak: “While the shadow of the land is given, the inherent authority and life essence will remain (with Māori).
"That's what Panakareao said when the Treaty was brought by non-Māori to Kaitaia and was signed by the people of Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa and Muriwhenua," Jones said.
Dame Cindy said the cloak covered her not just physically, but metaphysically.
"Connecting me back to our tūpuna and forward to our descendants,” Dame Cindy told her whānau at Mōtatau.
“Wherever I go in Aotearoa or internationally representing the people of New Zealand, I will take with me your aroha and your support.”