Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Maori king threatens abdication

Or possibly not. Strangely, the initial report from the Waikato Times does not seem to be carried on Stuff or the Herald’s website – I suppose that stories about Maoris in the provinces don’t generate enough click-through on the ads. Remember the stories last year about ructions in Ngai Tahu’s governance? Got any idea what’s happening now? No, me either and I used to work for them as a cultural advisor. This stuff does not rate.

The report opened:
The Maori King has threatened to abdicate his title if tribal members do not fall back into line.
(For overseas readers, the Maori king is not a king in the traditional sense, but a more-or-less hereditary leader of a group of tribes – we call them iwi – though by no means all of them. It’s regional and hellishly complicated: it’s Tainui central plus a bunch more in the middle of the North Island. Mostly. As always, you don’t want to go to Wikipedia for information: this is a good place to start. Te Kauhanganui is the iwi’s parliament.)

Falling back into line would seem to require tribal members to behave along the lines of Bob Geldof’s celebrated (if apocryphal) demand during LiveAid: “Give us your fooking money!”:
[. . . ] during his speech the king blasted Kauhanganui members for questioning his use of tribal funds, which he called “his money”, and the appointment of John “Barna” Heremia and Taitimu Maipi as the directors of the company which receives money from the tribe to operate his office.

The company, Ururangi Ltd, receives an annual budget of $1.2 million for the office and the appointments had been criticised after it was revealed that Mr Heremia and Mr Maipi were the two men at the helm of a Huntly kura kaupapa singled out by the auditor-general for making $400,000 in undeclared payments to its principal.

Mr Heremia is the principal of the school and Mr Maipi is the chairman of the board of trustees.

One of the sources said King Tuheitia spoke for about 20 minutes and it was clear that he was frustrated and angry.

“He wants control of his office without any question. He blames Te Kauhanganui for the issues that have been raised and he is embarrassed by Te Kauhanganui and just wants to do it his way.

“He wants it all to stop and basically said that if this doesn't happen he would step down from being the paramount chief of this tribe and the Maori king.”

[. . .] Another source said King Tuheitia also demanded that the tribe put a stop to attacks on the executive board, Te Arataura.

“He called it his board and said that the tribe was to stop their attacks on his board.”

The source said he believed, though, that the board should be working on behalf of the tribe.

The board has been criticised by some tribal members following its decision to incur significant legal fees defending a claim of unfair dismissal by chief executive Hemi Rau, approval of a $100,000 success fee paid to each negotiator of the Waikato River claim and a continuing rise in the cost of governance.
That was in Tuesday’s paper. Today, the front-page story says:
The Maori King, Tuheitia Paki, didn’t use the word “abdicate” in his speech to the Waikato-Tainui tribe’s parliament Te Kauhanganui on Sunday, according to a spokesman for his office. [. . .] King Tuheitia did not use those words, nor would he ever use such language.

Many tens of thousands of people witnessed the king's coronation at Turangawaewae following the passing of his mother, Te Arikinui Te Ataiirangikaahu, in 2006.

The crowning was a sacred ceremony that had followed the debate and ultimate selection by tribal leaders from throughout the country. The head of Kingitanga is not a title that can, nor would ever be abdicated irrespective of any tribal issues.”
OK, he won’t abdicate. But the updated story has no mention of the money issue so presumably King Tuheitia’s office doesn’t dispute the earlier story about huge payments to the men running his office.

I wouldn’t mind and would happily leave Tainui to handle or mishandle their Treaty settlement money as they choose – isn’t that the whole point of the process? – but really, this sense of the Big Men’s entitlement is a bit African. Drive around the district and see how people live on the edges of Huntly. It’s not Northland, but it is a world away from that of the Big Men.

The chair of the Tainui board, Tukuroirangi Morgan, may well be a better man now but will always be remembered for his $89 underpants.

1 comment:

Whoever said...

Yeah, no mention of any of this on Stuff or the Herald. Nothing to see here, move on people.

And the $100,000 payments to Tuku Morgan and Lady Mahuta aren't worth mentioning either.

Could we please have some journalism?