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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ngai Tahu business head ousted

Ructions have broken out among Ngai Tahu following the apparent sacking of the head of the iwi's business arm and plans to spend $52 million on a cultural centre and office block in Christcurch.

Robin Wybrow, the chair of Wairewa Runanga one of the 18 Ngai Tahu papatipu runanga, says he is most unhappy about the sacking of Ngai Tahu Holdings Corporation chair Wally Stone.

“I've fielded lots of calls from other runanga and other iwi members and everybody is expressing the same level of concern, that it just seems completely at odds with good governance and unfortunately it would appear that the politics of personality once more take precedence over the well being of the tribe,” Mr Wybrow says.

He is concerned Mr Stone's firing occurred after the decision to spend $52 million on the cultural centre in Christchurch which will mean selling down 10 percent of the tribe’s assets - something he is sure Wally Stone would not have been happy about.


However the iwi's central Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu (TRONT) committee is highly critical of the criticism of its decision made behind closed doors by the committee last night.

Tront Kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon would not comment on the exact reasons for Mr Stone’s removal but says the vote was strong enough to support the change.

Mr Solomon says this is purely business and he is saddened by runanga members commenting on this situation through the media.

“One of the overriding philosophies of Ngai Tahu is you keep things in house, you don’t go rushing to the media, and I always thought it was the way Maori operate that is you have an issue you discuss, it, not through the media, but kei te pai,” Mr Solomon says.


Broadcaster Willie Jackson is continuing his attack on mainstream media accusing it of huge hypocrisy and racism.

Last week on his talkback show Willie Jackson said the appointment of sports journalist Tony Veitch as a panelist by Sky TV while he is facing charges of assaulting his former partner was disgraceful, prompting Veitch to threaten defamation proceedings.

Willie Jackson has continued his criticism saying the hiring of Veitch is in stark contrast to the way Maori are treated by mainstream media when they face similar or lesser charges.

“But one of their own is hurt of one of their own is in trouble and they offer him a job so I think there is huge hypocrisy and contradiction happening in terms of mainstream media and there’s a racism there they refuse to acknowledge,” Mr Jackson says.

He wishes Tony Veitch no ill will but believes if he was Maori he would have probably been thrown in jail rather than be back on the airwaves as a broadcaster.


About 50 iwi organisations from the eastern side of the North Island are looking towards setting up a shared equity fund in a bid to turn themselves into an economic powerhouse.

Te Runanga o Ngati Awa chief executive Jeremy Gardiner, who hosted a hui of iwi organisations in Tauranga at the weekend, says by combining resources the organisations, which did not have the financial might of Tainui and Ngai Tahu which combined were worth more than a billion dollars, could find collective strength.

He says the idea came out of discussions within Ngati Awa and investments the tribe made last year bringing together some of its trusts and incorporations.

“From that it sparked the idea that there may be other opportunities out there as well so there are a lot of iwi and probably trusts and incorporations who are thinking about these sorts of things and we are looking now at talking to those and bringing them all together,” Mr
Gardiner says.

He hopes to see the idea of a shared equity fund progress within the next year.


Ngai Tahu iwi has agreed in principle to the development of a $52 million cultural centre and office block on the former King Edward Barracks site in Christchurch.

However Mark Solomon, the chair of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, says there is al ot of water to go under the bridge before the project gets the final go ahead.

“We agreed to it in principle. There’s a long way to go before we would actually get to the stage of when we would start. There’s resource consents etc to go through. And the final decision of whether it’s a goer or a non-goer is the economy, and that decision will be made in about two years time,” Mr Solomon says.

He says the iwi's business arm Ngai Tahu Holdings Corporation, whose chairman Wally Stone was replaced at the meeting which made the decision to proceed with the cultural centre, had been working on the proposal for a number of years.

Wally Stone's apparent sacking has come in for criticism from a number of runanga leaders within the iwi along with questions about the decision to proceed with the cultural centre made behind closed doors yesterday.


It's four times lucky for Auckland kapa haka roopu Te Waka Huia, who claimed the title of winners at Te Matatini 2009.

Thirty six roopu competed in the national kapa haka festival with Te Kapa Haka o Whangara mai Tawhiti placing second and Te Whanau a Apanui finishing third.

Te Matatini chair Selwyn Parata says all the groups performed to high standard with Te Waka Huia having the complete performance on the day.

“The level and the standard of all the groups that performed at the festival has move to an extremely high level,” Mr Parata says.


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