Locals complain North Shore marae 'hijacked'

8:57 pm on 8 November 2016

A group of frustrated locals say their community marae has been "hijacked", forcing them to hold tangi in garages and backyards rather on the site.

Awataha marae on Auckland's Northshore.

Awataha Marae on Auckland's North Shore Photo: RNZ / Mihingarangi Forbes

Awataha Marae on Auckland's North Shore is built on Crown land and is managed by the Awataha Incorporated Society, which allows managers to decide who is allowed to join up.

Beach Haven local Hohepa McLean said that was unfair.

Beach Haven local Hohepa McLean

Beach Haven local Hohepa McLean Photo: Supplied

Mr McLean said generations of Māori have been raised in the area away from their tribal homes and Awataha, designated by the Auckland Council as a "Māori Purpose Zone", was meant to be a place they could come together.

"It feels like the marae has been hijacked and taken off them," he said.

Mr McLean said Awataha Marae managing director Anthony Wilson has not held an annual general meeting so they had been unable to participate.

According to the Companies Register, the Awataha Incorporated Society has not filed financial statements since 2009.

However, Mr Wilson said it was still a community marae and disputed that people were being shut out.

When asked why individuals' memberships have not been accepted, Mr Wilson said he did not make the rules and suggested RNZ speak to the marae's accountants.

He said the most recent AGM was held last year and, when asked where the minutes were recorded, he suggested again that RNZ contact the accountants.

About 100 are expected at a community hui tonight, which will be held at the health centre next to the marae, to find a way forward.

'Garage tangi'

Beach Haven resident Francis Waaka

Beach Haven resident Francis Waaka Photo: Supplied

Francis Waaka is well known in Beach Haven: she has resided there for nearly 40 years.

Ms Waaka said she had been to a number of "garage tangi" in her suburb because the marae would not allow them to be held on site.

"Our kaumatua and kuia are not shown the respect they deserve," she said.

"It upsets me that Māori can't use a place that's called a marae as a marae."

However, Mr Wilson said part of the community continued to tell untruths.

RNZ asked how many tangi the marae had hosted in the past five years. Mr Wilson said three.