Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi has called the British Crown “a thief, a murderer and a coward” ahead of King Charles III’s coronation this weekend.

Waititi made the comments during an online gathering of Indigenous peoples from 12 countries this morning, all calling on King Charles to acknowledge the impacts of colonisation during his coronation.

Representatives from the 12 countries, including Aotearoa, Australia, Canada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, and the Bahamas, released a joint letter yesterday, making several demands of the new British monarch.

As well as an acknowledgement of the impacts of colonisation and slavery, the letter calls for reparations, the return of cultural artefacts, and repatriation of the remains of Indigenous people.

The letter was signed by Waititi, his Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, and their party president John Tamihere.

Today, Waititi said there was “no honour” in the British Crown. 

“The British royal family are war criminals who continue to flaunt their illegality in the face of world politics,” he told those assembled at today’s meeting.

“And under the guise of celebration, pomp and ceremony [they] ask you to turn a blind eye to the genocide, rape and oppression they continue to be responsible for.”

Waititi went on to say the British crown had “rained war on every continent on Earth” and “inherited power based on stolen wealth”.

“This Crown, both directly and through its successor colonial governments, continues to be an illegal occupation of … Indigenous nations throughout the world,” he said. 

Waititi said people “climbing out from beneath generations of colonial violence and oppression” shouldn’t be expected to celebrate King Charles’ coronation. 

“Humanity must require more of themselves than to expect indigenous peoples to be complicit in their own colonisation.”

‘More work to be done’

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has addressed the joint letter, telling Breakfast that New Zealand has processes in place for dealing with the impacts of colonisation.

"There are apologies that have been issued by the Crown in some cases for things that have happened in the past, so we've got an agreed process,” he said from the UK, where he’s due to attend King Charles’ coronation.

“It is a process that's working well but it's a process that's not yet complete; there's still more work to be done."

Hipkins met with King Charles earlier this week and said the monarch has an interest in issues facing Aotearoa.

"The King has a really active interest in New Zealand, having been a regular visitor to New Zealand. I'm sure he will intend to continue to be a regular visitor in the future."

Waititi said King Charles’ legacy will be judged by the actions he takes while wearing a crown “tainted with the blood of indigenous nations”.

“The British Crown should be on notice that the indigenous world is rising, and they will be held accountable for every single atrocity committed in their name,” he said. 

“We say history will judge whether you have the moral or intellectual capacity to shoulder responsibility for your family's heinous legacy.” 

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