Two attempts to remove a trustee from a prominent Northland marae based on unspecified complaints have failed despite concerns about aspects of her performance.
Both attempts to remove Hinewhare Harawira were made by fellow trustees of the Te Tii Waitangi Marae, Ngati Kawa Taituha and Merehora Taurua, through applications to the Maori Land Court and the Maori Appellate Court.
In January 2015, Judge David Ambler brought to an end the interim trusteeship that had been in place at the marae since 2001 and appointed 10 trustees to be reduced to nine at that year's annual general meeting.
Hapeta Rameka, Bella Jane Taituha Russ, Ngatikawa Aramihia Taituha, Mereawaroa Davies, Emma Gibbs-Smith, Hinewhare Harawira, Waireti Paora, Saku Taurua, Te Hapae Ashby, and Merehora Taurua were appointed trustees.
Judge Ambler issued directions to the trustees in June 2015 to, among other things, make available minutes of AGMs, trustee meetings, and financial statements of the past five years.
At the AGM in October, four trustees stood down and were replaced before Judge Ambler decided to allow the trustees to continue their work for a probationary period until the beginning of April 2016.
The trustees never received copies of various documents as directed by the judge from Ms Harawira and Merehora Taurua, who were primarily responsible for attending to those tasks.
Both gave reasons for their failures which were rejected by Judge Ambler.
At the hearing in August 2016, the Maori Land Court also heard an application by Mr Taituha to have Ms Harawira replaced as a trustee on the basis of a petition from the beneficiaries.
The application was not supported by an specific grounds or allegations of misconduct on her part.
Judge Ambler refused to hear the application when she had not been told of the alleged complaints against her.
Some trustees accused her of bullying, threatening, and even violence.
"I remain concerned that Ms Harawira represents a divisive and dominating personality in the trust and that in the past two years she has been responsible for a lack of progress within the trust," Judge Ambler said.
"On the other hand, the evidence of beneficiaries is that she provides a leadership role for the hapu and within the community."
Judge Ambler's decision that there were insufficient grounds to remove her as a trustee was unsuccessfully appealed in the Maori Appellate Court by Merehora Taurua.