Sam Napia to contest Tūhoronuku leadership

8:52 pm on 3 August 2015

The acting chair of Tūhoronuku, Sam Napia, is hoping to confirm his position as the leader of Ngāpuhi's independent mandated authority in elections this month.

map with Ngapuhi

Photo: Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Mr Napia took over the reins of the iwi's treaty negotiations authority in July when its founding chairman, Sonny Tau, stepped aside over the kererū incident.

It is not known yet if Mr Tau will stand again. He is due to appear in court charged with possession of protected wood pigeons four days after the Tūhoronuku elections - which take place in 10 days.

Mr Napia said he and deputy chair Moana Tuwhare would seek election to their current positions, with the aim of building on progress Tūhoronuku has made in recent weeks towards unity.

But he said that was not a reflection on Mr Tau.

"In my view, Ngāpuhi wouldn't be in the place we are, were it not for Sonny Tau's leadership, so I want to pay tribute to Sonny for that," he said.

"The reality is, in the last few weeks, the leadership has changed. Tūhoronuku is reaching out and maybe the stars are just aligning at the same time: there are people out there who are starting to consider whether to come on board, and we're seeing that happening now."

Warning to strengthen mandate

The Ngāpuhi settlement board was warned by the Government to strengthen its mandate, after many of the hundred or so hapū that make up the iwi boycotted its first elections.

The Waitangi Tribunal supported their concerns, criticising the Crown's handling of the mandate process and its role in causing dissent within Aotearoa's biggest iwi.

Mr Napia said Tūhoronuku now had 69 kaikōrero (hapū representatives), which he said was almost a 50 percent increase in the numbers since the original elections in 2014.

"Moana and I had our first meeting last week with the Minister for Treaty Negotiations, since taking over the settlement leadership roles," Mr Napia said.

"We had our kaumātua and kuia reps with us, John Klaricich and Nora Rameka - and the meeting was constructive and frank."

He said Tūhoronuku supported anyone trying to create unity in Ngāpuhi, including elders who announced last week they would set up a new taumata group to help resolve differences.

"We will send someone to that meeting to listen to their concerns, and we also want to reach out to Ngāti Hine, now that there's a new positive vibe happening, to talk about things, and that's what we're going to do."

The influential sub-tribe has been at loggerheads with the Ngāpuhi rūnanga for several years, after the rūnanga blocked Ngāti Hine's attempts to withdraw and claim its share of the Ngāpuhi Fisheries settlement. It has remained adamant that Tūhoronuku cannot speak for Ngāti Hine, or settle its claims.

Mr Napia said Tūhoronuku hoped to begin negotiating the Ngāpuhi settlement in the coming weeks and months.

The Waitangi Tribunal is still working its way through the hearing of hundreds of land claims from the northern hapu in its Paparahi o Te Raki inquiry.

However Mr Napia said those hapū who haven't yet been heard by the tribunal would not be disadvantaged if negotiations began first, because the hapū kaikōrero on Tūhoronuku were familiar with the claims and the remedies their people wanted.

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