24 Sep 2016

Future of Tūhoronuku in doubt after resignations

5:11 pm on 24 September 2016

The future of Tūhoronuku, the board set up to establish a mandate to settle Ngāpuhi's Treaty claims, is now in doubt.

A group of protesters - including members of rival faction Te Kotahitanga - take to the streets to oppose Tūhoronuku's appointment to carry out treaty negotiations on behalf of Ngāpuhi.

A group of protesters - including members of rival faction Te Kotahitanga - take to the streets to oppose Tūhoronuku's appointment to carry out treaty negotiations on behalf of Ngāpuhi. Photo: TE KOTAHITANGA

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson has said he would reassess Tūhoronuku's mandate if it failed to adopt a report recommending giving hapū genuine control of the settlement process.

A spokesperson for Mr Finlayson today said he was waiting for formal notification on the outcome of yesterday's board meeting before making any comment.

Four trustees, Moana Tuwhare, Sam Napia, Sheryl Turner and Helene Leaf, resigned in protest yesterday after the board, Tūhoronuku, refused to adopt the Maranga Mai report, which recommends ways to allow hapū to drive the settlement negotiations.

The future of Tūhoronuku, which was founded by its former chair Sonny Tau, is now in doubt after eight years and a Crown investment of more than $4 million, to establish a mandate to settle Ngāpuhi's Treaty claims.

Hinerangi Himiona, who stood in for Sam Napia at yesterday's meeting, said she didn't usually attend the board meetings and she was taken aback by how little some trustees seemed to know about the proposals.

"I, at some times, thought that perhaps these people haven't even read the Maranga Mai report, some of the questions were quite basic, which told me, as someone that hasn't been sitting around that table, that perhaps people weren't taking the Maranga Mai report and its detail that seriously - it really concerned me."

Hokianga hapū leader Cheryl Turner, who was one of the members to resign yesterday, said the board claiming the right to manage the Ngāpuhi Treaty settlement could not be trusted.

Ms Turner said trustees had continually pushed personal agendas, refused to listen to kaikōrero - the hapū representatives - and at times behaved disgracefully.

"It's not a safe environment for our hapū kaikōrero to participate in, we can't contribute effectively without getting our hands slapped, you know I'm just over it."

Another of the board members who resigned, Ngāpuhi lawyer Moana Tuwhare, said it was now clear that the board was never going to let hapū take charge.

Ms Tuwhare said months of work by people on both sides of the dispute had been wasted.

"When you've as a team, a small team of Ngāpuhi, put your shoulder to the grind and spent an average two and a half days a week for the last 10 months on trying to come to some resolution to get a unified approach, only to be cut off at the end by a board that didn't want to support it, you know, it's pretty disheartening."

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