John was awarded the Korowai cloak at a concert he gave Thursday night before 15,000 people in the regional New Zealand city of New Plymouth , the traditional home of the Ngati Te Whiti sub-tribe, group chariman Peter Love said.
The cloak is rarely given, Love said. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles are two past recipients. Others also have received the cloak, but often it is not publicized and there is no list of recipients.
In the case of John, "it's the Maori equivalent to an Academy Award" and means he is "an honored member of Ngati Te Whiti," Love said in a statement Friday.
The cloak was "gifted as recognition of the enjoyment Sir Elton John's music has given to Maori over the years and his loyal continuance to return to Aotearoa to entertain," he said. Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand .
Ngati Te Whiti were thrilled that the entertainer "recognized the honor and that he regarded the korowai as a treasure," he said.
The cloak's presentation "is significant as it's rarely given, and then only by a chief to another ranking person" according to Maori protocol, Love said.
Also according to protocol, John is expected to wear the cloak on future visits to New Zealand .