Maori king's plea to followers

By Yvonne Tahana

The Maori king, Tuheitia Paki. Photo / John Borren
The Maori king, Tuheitia Paki. Photo / John Borren

King Tuheitia is again calling for the dumping of tribal chairwoman Tania Martin in favour of Tuku Morgan in an unprecedented open letter to Kingitanga followers.

Covering seven pages and distributed widely throughout Waikato-Tainui yesterday it broadly criticises Ms Martin, who is chairwoman of Te Kauhanganui the tribal parliament, as well as other executive Te Arataura board leaders Kingi Porima, Hemi Rau and Tom Roa.

The genesis of the letter started two years ago in an embarrassing chapter when Tuheitia unsuccessfully tried and failed to fire Ms Martin who had raised concerns about what she believed to be wasted tribal funds.

In the letter Tuheitia told tribal members he wished he'd pushed harder because in the intervening period the tribe had become dysfunctional, continuously mired in High Court battles.

"I've spoken openly about the fact that if I had the authority and power to dissolve Te Kauhanganui and ... Te Arataura, I would have three years ago," he wrote.

"I will not be judged by my people for my inaction ... even though my actions may be seen as intrusive, I want to know in my heart that I tried. The leadership of Te Kauhanganui and Te Arataura has been reckless and shameful."

He called for Ms Martin and Te Arataura to stand down and is openly backing Tuku Morgan, who failed to win re-election earlier this year to the board.

The parliament is due to meet this Sunday.

The former truck driver also had words for his followers about their attitudes towards him.

"Many of you ... have all made judgements of me, my decisions, my behaviour, my words, my appearance, my children, my wife, my office and my staff.

"I have continued to try to correct and improve myself regardless of your criticisms."

In the tribe's post-settlement era there has never been such a direct dressing down of the leadership tier by either the king or his late mother Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu.

Ms Martin did not return calls.

- NZ Herald

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