Tribe's executive board under pressure

SIENA YATES
Last updated 05:00 27/11/2012

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Waikato-Tainui's executive board could be next in the firing line following the departure of the chair of the tribal parliament.

Tania Martin, chair of Waikato-Tainui Te Kauhanganui, was stood down from her position after an all-day hui on Sunday, and the members of the executive board - known as Te Arataura - will come under the same pressure at a general meeting on December 8.

Both incidents follow a scathing letter from King Tuheitia criticising the tribe's "infighting", calling for Te Arataura members and Mrs Martin to stand down, and backing his own spokesman, Tuku Morgan, as her replacement.

He made mention of his power to dissolve both bodies and said: "There is no way I am going to . . . stand aside to allow dysfunctionality to continue."

Mr Morgan said the king's endorsement was both an honour and an opportunity for change.

"The tribe continues to be dysfunctional. That is a major concern for me.

"We have to change the manner in which the tribe is doing business . . . it's inappropriate. It has to stop, I absolutely agree with the king.

"I am humbled to get [his] support," he said.

The "dysfunction" they spoke of referred to other calls for Mrs Martin to stand down that came from within the tribe.

In September, members of the tribe's parliament and executive board spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in court disputing Mrs Martin's appointment as chair, which the judge found to be legitimate.

The following month, Te Arataura chair, Tom Roa, wrote a formal letter to Mrs Martin and her officers asking them to stand down, which they refused.

However, after a majority vote at Sunday's meeting. Mrs Martin was disqualified for "bringing, or being likely to bring the tribe into disrepute".

Chair of Te Arataura, Tom Roa, said the king's letter was not the reason for the vote but it "had an impact" and he agreed Kauhanganui leadership had been found wanting over the past few years.

"I feel, for the king, that he felt a need to take a strong stand for the good of his people.

"Perhaps with this present decision things will improve, that's what I'm looking forward to.

"That the power struggle is settled, and we move into a new year in a different space."

However, Mrs Martin's spokeswoman, Chris Webster, said there was no evidence provided against Mrs Martin and the vote was only swung by two marae votes.

She also said those at Sunday's meeting were not in support of Tuku Morgan coming "in the back door" to the chair.

"They pretty much all said that.

"Tuku Morgan's got the king in his pocket and the king's got Tuku in his," she said.

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Mr Roa said that issue would be settled at Waikato-Tainui's annual general meeting on December 8, and he would "stand gracefully aside if the Kauhanganui requires that".

- Waikato Times

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