Maori King Tuheitia has been accused of swearing at his own people at a public meeting.
Tiwai Iti, the sister of Maori activist Tame Iti, was at a meeting at Waikare Marae in Te Kauwhata last Saturday when the king was questioned about the spending of the tribe's executive board.
When Iti criticised the king for swearing at a kaumatua, he allegedly said to her "if you don't f...ing like it then you can f... off''.
Iti, who affiliates to the Tainui subtribes of Ngati Haua and Ngati Wairere as well as the Tuhoe iwi, said she sat quietly at the beginning of the meeting and listened while the chairman of Tainui's board, Tukoroirangi Morgan, got up and addressed the 200 people who were at the marae.
Morgan presented a one-page document to the meeting which asserted that the figures used in a report written by the chairwoman of Tainui's tribal parliament, Tania Martin, criticising the executive board, Te Arataura, were inaccurate.
The report raised a series of issues and earlier this week the king sent out a press release saying he was removing Martin from the position as chairwoman "to halt the damage and restore unity, fairness and good order''.
Iti said during his speech Morgan told the people there had been a empty seat at the Pike River Mine memorial service presumably because the king could not attend due to ructions within the tribe.
"Then Tuku [Morgan] turned around to the king and said 'I want you to sack her' in front all of us. It was Tuku Morgan who [suggested] the king sack Tania Martin.''
Iti said a Tainui kaumatua then got up and asked questions of Morgan and the figures.
"That's when Tuheitia got up and said 'can't you f...ing read what's on the paper'.
He pointed his tokotoko (walking stick) at that koroua (old man).
"If you had have heard him speak, it just went straight through you, just the way he swore just how he said it. It was really ugly, it was so foul I couldn't help it. I had to say something it was that yuck.
"I said to him 'how dare you talk like that to the kaumatua, there are our mokopuna over here' and he just started on me.
"He was looking for me at first because he couldn't see me and when he saw me he said 'if you don't f...ing like it then you can f... off'.
"The people say nothing to him and they are letting him carry on how he wants and it's not right."
She said in her opinion "he has no respect. The people put him there and the people can take him out''.
In her view "the iwi should all get together because enough is enough, he is making a mockery of it all''.
"I would do it again, oh yeah I would do it again and he can't kick me off the marae, I'm free to do what I want.''
Hoana Peautolu, who was also at the poukai meeting, said the king's behaviour was hurtful to those who were at the marae and to those who had heard about it afterward.
"It was shocking, people couldn't believe what they were hearing. I couldn't believe that the king swore.''
The king's office didn't respond to inquiries.
Asked about Morgan's role in the sacking of Martin, Tainui communications officer Kirk MacGibbon accused the Waikato Times reporter of having no understanding of kingitanga.
"You are really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. These allegations are pathetic. They do not warrant anything but the response I have just given you.''
Morgan declined to talk to the Waikato Times about what happened during the meeting.
"You know the deal I don't talk to people like you,'' he said.
Iti attended the meeting known as a poukai to acknowledge her mother, who died two months ago.
Marae which affiliate to Tainui's tribal parliament, Te Kauhanganui, each host one poukai a year to acknowledge those who have suffered a bereavement and as a chance for people to raise issues of tribal business.
- Waikato Times