Divisions deepen in Ngāpuhi as Kotahitanga chiefs are told to step down

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Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi, one of the settlement bodies in the Ngāpuhi mandate, motioned to remove their co-chairs and lawyer in a fractious meeting on Tuesday.  

Moka Puru, a widely-respected Ngāpuhi elder and the husband of Hine Puru, the daughter of Dame Whina Cooper, put forward the motion to remove co-chairs Rudy Taylor and Pita Tipene and lawyer Jason Pou.

But Pou, one of the negotiators in the equally fractious Whakatōhea settlement, doubts whether the motion enjoys wide support.

“I'm not sure that the resolution has merit given that there has not been engagement with the hapū that was ostensibly expressed,” he said.

The motion comes as Ngāti Hine, one of the largest iwi in the Ngāpuhi confederation, reject the government’s “taiwhenua” model where mandated bodies representing six districts negotiate cultural redress and one mandated body negotiates commercial redress.

“Ngāti Hine will follow the voting process and continue to campaign for the opposition of the proposed mandate,” said Te Maara ā Hineaamaru chairman Te Waihoroi Shortland, adding that Ngāti Hine cannot support a model they had no hand in developing.

“In the end, this is set up to create a divide between hapū”.

Ngāpuhi did not cede sovereignty – iwi members

Complicating the ongoing consultation process is iwi members’ (correct) assertion that Ngāpuhi did not cede their rangatiratanga, meaning it is not for them to submit to a Crown-led process.

Approximately 19 submitters expressed this view during round two consultation hui.

The view is also popular on social media, including the Ngati Hine a Hineamaru page.

In a letter from Attorney-General David Parker to lawyer Janet Mason, counsel for Ngāpuhi claimants Titewhai Harawira and Ruiha Collier, the Crown also accepts that rangatiratanga was not necessarily ceded.   

In information provided to māui street through Parker’s office the Crown’s position is that it agrees with the Waitangi Tribunal in its Te Paparahi o Te Raki stage one report that “the [T]reaty resulted in two forms of authority: the Crown’s kāwanatanga and Māori tino rangatiratanga over their lands and taonga”.

The Crown also agrees that “quite how the two forms of authority were to relate to each other was not made clear in the [T]reaty”.

Interestingly, “[t]he Crown expects the Tribunal’s findings, and the relationship between kāwanatanga and rangatiratanga, to be discussed in settlement negotiations”.

This could be read as vindicating the view that negotiations should occur between hapū, as the repositories of rangatiratanga, and the Crown as the repository of kāwanatanga.

However, this does not rule out the Crown’s taiwhenua model as hapū can still confer rangatiratanga on a representative body or pool it as part of an iwi body (a model with significant historical precedence).

Debate over the precise implications of the Attorney-General’s letter remains ongoing on social media.

Te Rōpū Tūhono, the group made up of members from Kotahitanga, Tuhoronuku, and the Crown, is travelling to the final taiwhenua district – Hokianga – on Friday to sell its negotiation model.

Voting is also expected to take place tomorrow.

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