20 Oct 2015

Sonny Tau steps down from another leadership position

9:16 am on 20 October 2015

Raniera Sonny Tau is standing down from his post as Chairman of Te Runanga A iwi o Ngāpuhi.

Sonny Tau in the dock at the Invercargill District Court.

Sonny Tau at Invercargill District Court. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Mr Tau was caught with kererū at a South Island airport earlier this year and was charged with possession and hunting of the protected bird.

He is defending the hunting charge.

Mr Tau has already paid a significant price since charges were laid in June this year, and it has led to him relinquishing a number of significant roles.

With the court process currently underway Mr Tau has already been served a fair bit of marae justice having delivered a whakapāhā, or apology, to Ngāi Tahu in August when he travelled with a group of supporters to Invercargill.

He has also had to face up to many in Ngapuhi at the various hui he has attended.

Mr Tau has been involved in the Ngāpuhi claim for many years and played a significant role in setting up the Hokianga Accord - a forum which assists the Ministry of Fisheries to fulfil its obligation to provide for the participation of tangata whenua in non-commercial fishing activities.

He is also the deputy chairman of Te Ohu Kaimoana the Maori Fisheries Trust and has participated in the Iwi Leader's Forum for many years.

Last month he stood aside from his role of chair of Tuhoronuku and now he is stepping aside again, this time from the Runanga chair position.

A statement from the Runanga said the stand down will be for three months, but all eyes will be on Mr Tau's court case where he is defending the charge of hunting a protected species.

It is not certain whether Mr Tau will continue in his role as Iwi chair or at Te Ohu Kai moana.

Carol Dodds will be standing in for Mr Tau for the next three months. Ms Dodds is the deputy chairperson for the runanga.

Radio New Zealand approached the runanga and Mr Tau for comment but neither responded to our requests.