Te Kotahitanga reject meeting Tau over Ngāpuhi mandate

2:27 pm on 20 June 2017

In the Ngāpuhi mandate dispute - the hapū alliance Te Kotahitanga has rejected an invitation to meet the opposition, Tūhoronuku, as long as it is led by Sonny Tau.

Ngapuhi leader Sonny Tau

Sonny Tau. Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

The government this month stepped back from pre-settlement talks with Ngāpuhi, saying the iwi needed to decide for itself who should represent it in Treaty negotiations.

Treaty Minister Chris Finlayson said at the time the discussions between Tūhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga - two opposing groups representing iwi members - had reached a stalemate that not even Pope Francis could break.

Tūhoronuku's deputy chair Sonny Tau last week invited hapū alliance leaders Pita Tipene and Rudi Taylor to a meeting to discuss how to resolve the standoff.

"We are committed to meeting with whomever it takes to get this kaupapa over the line, and I have suggested us four (sic) sit down and have a kōrero about where to from here," Mr Tau said in his letter.

But at Parawhenua marae last week a Te Kotahitanga hui of more than 100 hapū representatives including some previously aligned with Tūhoronuku turned that idea down flat.

The motion passed by the hui reads:

"We ... recommend withdrawal from any engagement with the current Tūhoronuku leadership of Raniera (Sonny Tau) given that he has brought Ngāpuhi into disrepute."

Mr Tau was last year convicted of killing kererū and conspiring to pervert the course of justice with an attempted cover-up.

Both Tūhoronuku and Te Kotahitanga representatives drew up the Maranga Mai report last year, recommending a new hapū-led board to drive negotiations, after the Waitangi Tribunal found Tūhoronuku was 'an empty vessel' and its mandate was flawed.

But Tūhoronuku leaders ignored meetings to set up the new board, and after first endorsing Maranga Mai it, told the government they wanted changes made to it.

In an email response to Mr Tau, Te Kotahitanga co-chair Pita Tipene said hapū wanted to move forward with Treaty negotiations, under the Maranga Mai model.

"Your style of leadership has divided and fractured relationships in Ngāpuhi that will take generations to heal," he said.

"What our people are saying is that they will not accept any committee, akin to ... a politburo ... that thinks it will speak on behalf of Ngāpuhi.

"The so-called leadership is not with you, me, Hone Sadler, Rudi Taylor, any of us. The leadership is with the hapū and if we are to talk it will be through that (Maranga Mai) framework," Mr Tipene said.

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