Kingitanga good fit but greater unity urged

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013

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The future of the Kingitanga looks secure as Waikato-Tainui tribal members turned out on the first day of a hui to discuss the future of the iwi.

More than 400 people filled the main dining hall at Turangawaewae Marae yesterday after Maori King Tuheitia Paki called a two-day meeting to question the future of the movement.

But he received a ringing endorsement from the hui, with tribal members saying "there is no better example of what the tribe is about" than the Kingitanga movement.

"Support for the king is undeniable," meeting convener Tukoroirangi Morgan said at the end of day one.

"The challenge that we have is how do we modernise the face of its activities."

The hui was asked to make recommendations for the future direction of the iwi and Mr Morgan said there was an appetite for change.

"There is a sense of urgency amongst our people to move on, to create opportunities – our people are sick and tired, they have gone past our dysfunctionality [and] just want to move on," he said.

"There has to be hard and fast recommendations and drive for change. "This hui is worthless if they don't drive the recommendations that lead to change."

Former league player and businessman Tawera Nikau said the Kingitanga was the "guiding force" and essential to the iwi's prosperity.

He said the infighting over the past few years had benefited no-one but lawyers and it was time to move on.

"Over the last five years, I have sat on the sidelines watching how the tribe has been fighting. What has happened has happened but, for us to move on and chart the path for our future, we have to do things differently," he said.

Mr Nikau, chief executive of building firm Aotearoa Construction, is looking to the tribe's economic arm, Tainui Group Holdings (TGH), to provide jobs for members.

"As shareholders, as beneficiaries, if we are spending money on The Base or Ruakura, it is an opportunity to grow and develop our people. Many of them are digger drivers and truck drivers so that opportunity is there," Mr Nikau said.

TGH chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said the company was achieving its core objective of making money, but there were better ways to get outcomes for the tribe's 63,000 members.

"TGH must be part of Waikato-Tainui to get everyone heading in the same direction," he said.

The tribal executive, Te Arataura, is the current shareholder of Tainui Group Holdings.

But Sir Henry van der Heyden the shareholding should move to the tribal members with a "commercial contract" to deliver on their expectations.

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"The tradeoff is that all of the money ends up in TGH but then accountability is held in TGH. That is fundamental."

Sir Henry wanted the tribe's commercial arm, parliament, executive, beneficiaries and Kingitanga working together for the benefit of the tribe.

"You have got five lots and they are all pulling in different directions. You have got to get them all to move in the same direction."

The hui continues on today.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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