21 Apr 2016

Māori Council split 'not significant' - chairman

1:18 pm on 21 April 2016

Sir Taihakurei Durie says he won't walk away from the chairmanship of the Māori Council, despite an apparent split in the organisation.

Sir Taihakurei Durie (left) and Maanu Paul

Sir Taihakurei Durie, left, and Maanu Paul. Photo: SUPPLIED / Laura Bootham

The council had two chairmen, but a vote at the weekend saw Maanu Paul removed and replaced as the sole head by Sir Taihakurei, a former High Court judge and Waitangi Tribunal chairman. This sparked a walkout by some delegates.

There have been calls for the government to step in, with a claim the council is dysfunctional.

Sir Taihakurei told Morning Report the majority of council members asked him to be chair and it was his duty to do that.

The split in the organisation was "not significant" but it was disturbing for him as chair because the organisation had to work together, he said.

When he joined the council he was committed to having it follow its own statutory rules, particularly on elections.

"A number of people have not been happy about it because they have been rolling over their membership without proper elections, and they have tried to resist this position that I have taken."

He denied claims by council member Willie Jackson, who had called for a boycott of the vote, that eight out the 14 districts did not participate in the vote.

Sir Taihakurei said 10 of the 14 districts were represented but he did not know how many votes he got because it was a secret ballot.

"What I can say is that we had a good quorum and that was the result."

He said Mr Paul had himself elected as sole chairman at a meeting in February called without authority, two months before the council elections were due to held in April.

"That sort of carry on is just totally unacceptable and so I called him on it."

Sir Taihakurei said at the vote at the weekend he had 32 of 42 members present.

Yesterday on Morning Report, Mr Jackson said the meeting was a setup and that Sir Taihakurei should step aside.

Mr Jackson called on Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell to intervene. However, Mr Flavell said he could not interfere with a statutory body.