Treaty Minister calls for Raniera Tau to step down

By Mikaela Collins -
Minister of Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson has called for Raniera (Sonny) Tau to stand down from his leadership positions in Ngapuhi. Photo / John Stone
Minister of Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson has called for Raniera (Sonny) Tau to stand down from his leadership positions in Ngapuhi. Photo / John Stone

Calls for Raniera Tau to step down from his leadership positions in Ngapuhi have come in the same week runanga trustees put out a report saying they do not trust the former chairman and will not support his return to the role.

Treaty Negotiations Minister and Attorney General Chris Finlayson said Raniera (Sonny) Tau should stay away from Ngapuhi's Treaty claim process, saying his time was "over".

"Every person has their day in the sun and then they should move on," Mr Finlayson said.

Mr Tau was convicted last month of hunting and possessing native wood pigeons after five frozen kukupa wrapped in newspaper were found in his luggage at Invercargill Airport on June 16 last year. He admitted possessing the birds but said his daughter's partner, Douglas James Sadlier, had shot them.

Later, both men admitted concocting that story and were charged with perverting the course of justice.

Mr Tau was ordered to pay $24,500 and serve 100 hours' community work when he was sentenced.

Despite the convictions, the Ngapuhi Runanga announced Mr Tau's leave from his role of chairman would be extended a further six months - he has been on leave since October last year.

However, a report sent to Ngapuhi takiwa members by trustees Mike Kake, Helene Leaf and Te Rau Allen, says they do not support Mr Tau returning to the chair position which is being filled by Carol Dodd.

"As runanga trustees, the issue is no longer about merely shooting kukupa or his other offending.

It is a matter of trust and telling the truth. While he continues to be dishonest we simply cannot trust him, and we cannot and will not support his return to this board as our chair," the report said.

Te Runanga-A-Iwi-O Ngapuhi did not wish to comment at this stage and Mr Tau did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Co-chairman of Te Kotahitanga Rudy Taylor said he supported Mr Finlayson's comments regarding Mr Tau's leadership and congratulated the trustees on the report.

Last year Deputy Prime Minister Bill English (left) and then Ngapuhi runanga chairman Raniera (Sonny) Tau were sitting around the same table - now the Government is calling for Mr Tau to stand down.
Last year Deputy Prime Minister Bill English (left) and then Ngapuhi runanga chairman Raniera (Sonny) Tau were sitting around the same table - now the Government is calling for Mr Tau to stand down.

"Well, put it this way, six months [leave] shouldn't have been six months, he should be gone. I support the work Carol Dodd is doing. Carol Dodd has a good understanding, she has done a good job. Sonny should be gone," he said.

Mr Taylor said Mr Tau should have stood down as chairman as soon as he pleaded guilty to conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

The report released by the trustees lists similar concern over the conspiring to pervert the course of justice charge saying it is "by far the more serious for our runanga and Ngapuhi to have to reconcile".

"This conviction demonstrates an undermining of the legal system. The head of that legal system in New Zealand is the Attorney General, Chris Finlayson, who also happens to be the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and a senior member of Cabinet.

As Ngapuhi prepares to enter into settlement negotiations over our historical Te Tiriti o Waitangi claims, our runanga and iwi leadership must be beyond reproach."

On Tuesday this week the Crown accepted a Waitangi Tribunal ruling that the process to choose who in Ngapuhi would negotiate with the Crown was flawed.

The ruling saw Ngapuhi's two factions come together and produce the Maranga Mai report that recommended a way forward.

"The Crown accepts the recommendations in Maranga Mai. The recommendations are consistent with the intent of the current mandate and improve on those areas of the mandate identified by the Waitangi Tribunal in its Ngapuhi Mandate Inquiry Report," a spokesman for Mr Finlayson said.

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