26 Jun 2012

Maori Council makes bid to regain relevance

8:41 am on 26 June 2012

Maori Council members have made leadership changes in a bid to step back into the corridors of power with a drive to be seen as an adviser to the Government on all things Maori.

Long-serving chairman Sir Graham Latimer has become president of the Maori Council, making way for two high-profile successors to chair the council.

Maanu Paul will co-chair the Maori Council with the former head of the Waitangi Tribunal, Sir Eddie Durie.

In recent years the pan-Maori council has faded from the limelight as the Iwi Leaders Forum has gained the ear of Ministers.

But the council says its recent Waitangi Tribunal claim on water rights and submissions on the proposed sale of state-owned assets have been a call to arms for its members.

Mr Paul says while iwi have been lobbying the Government, the Maori Council is a statutory body that has to be listened to.

He says the law is on the council's side. Other organisations are there by political will or privilege but there is nothing legally binding in their status to represent Maori.

Former Maori Party MP Rahui Katene fills one of three deputy chair positions.

She says iwi and their leaders are looking at their tribe and their place in the world.

Ms Katene says the Maori Council is different - and has an overview of all Maori and can cater for iwi members living outside their rohe (district) or in another tribal area.