19 Feb 2015

Ngati Porou chairmanship could be split

7:59 pm on 19 February 2015

In a break from tradition, the leadership role of Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou could be filled by more than one person.

Te Rahui Marae in Tikitiki, where Apirana Mahuika is lying in state.

Te Rahui Marae in Tikitiki Photo: RNZ / Peter Fowler

The position is vacant following the death of the tribe's renowned leader Apirana Mahuika last week.

Apirana Mahuika

Apirana Mahuika Photo: Twitter / Ngati Porou

The tribal leadership role is currently being looked after by deputy chair Selwyn Parata.

While people said their good-bye to Mr Mahuika at his tangi at Rāhui Marae last week, they also acknowledged him for mentoring descendants to become leaders.

Whanau spokesperson Te Rau Kupenga told Te Manu Kōrihi that it was up to the people to carry on his teachings.

"The challenge really, is for all of us, who loved him, a lot of us who believed in him and supported him, to pick up the mantle so that it's a collective really rather than an individual that leads the iwi into the future."

Another tribal uri (descendant), Walton Walker, was confident about the long term future for Ngāti Porou leadership.

"For the long term future, yes, it's good for Ngāti Porou. [However] short term I believe we may struggle a bit, but once - kua mutu te hotuhotu, [me] te tangi - and we start focusing on what's ahead of us, then that's where we'll start to see the new leadership start to emerge."

'Different type of leadership'

The rūnanga trustees are due to meet in the next two weeks to talk about replacements.

Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou chief executive Teepa Wawatai wouldn't say when they'd meet but he did outline what they'd talk about:

"First item of business [will be] noting the passing of Uncle Api and it will be minute-ed. And there will be a special note in the minute book, and then it's to look at the position of chair and deputy chair."

Mr Wawatai said the 13 trustees would decide which of them would take over the role of chair from Mr Mahuika, which could include a change in the chairmanship position:

"He was the embodiment of this organisation. This was his life and purpose, a Ngāti Porou first, second and third. And so he was a full-time 24-hour, seven days a week chair and in that sit for a long time.

"So those things are impossible to replace with one person. But, it [the position] could be replaced by ten people or five people. So what you'll be looking at is a different type of leadership that would emerge."

Mr Wawatai said the group would continue until a trustee election, where 14 people would be picked for the rūnanga positions.

Iwi members have made it clear that there's no shortage of kaiārahi (leaders).

Another uri (descendant), Willie Te Aho, agreed, and said the seeds of iwi leaders already exists, including people who were mentored by Mr Mahuika.

"The likes of Viv Rickard, who's very high up in the police. He also in education circles, mentored a lot of the principals in Ngāti Porou right through to our current Minister of Education.

"In relation to tribal development and politics, he mentored Selwyn Parata, who wears many hats on behalf of Ngāti Porou.

"On the economic front, he mentored the likes of Whaimutu Dewes and also his own son, Matānuku Mahuika."

An election of trustees for Te Rūnanga ō Ngāti Porou is due to take place in August or September this year.

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