Court backs Tamihere's election to trust board

By Jon Stokes

Moves by the Waipareira Trust board to exclude former Labour MP John Tamihere and four other elected members have been ruled illegal.

Mr Tamihere and four other West Auckland community members were elected to the board at last month's general meeting.

The outspoken former trust chief executive led an at times heated debate to force a backdown by the board on a decision restricting board numbers from 15 to 10.

Five new members were then elected, with two former members who sought re-election after standing down as per a trust rule requiring members to seek re-election every three years.

Two days later Mr Tamihere was told that the board motion changing the number of members to 10 still stood, and the board would appoint two members from the six elected. The two former board members were later appointed.

Mr Tamihere, and the four, sought an interim High Court injunction against the trust board to get back their seats.

Justice Paul Heath supported their move.

In a 27-page judgment released yesterday, he said the Waipareira Trust had no right to overrule a democratic decision.

"In my view, for the reasons I have given, the whanau were entitled to elect seven members of the board. There is no basis for the suggestion that the board can override that democratic choice."

He ordered the board to recognise the new members.

Trust spokesman Ricky Houghton said he was disappointed by the decision, but would accept it.

"I must accept it. It is a bit of a shame, but we will just have to try and get on together."

Mr Houghton urged an end to the in-fighting that has plagued the board over the past two years.

"It is not going to be easy for us. I urge those new members, and John, to work for what is best for the community."

Mr Tamihere said the ruling brought a happy ending to what had been a hard year.

"This is a comprehensive victory for me and the members and for the people of West Auckland."

He said it was a sad day for the whanau of Waipareira Trust that they were forced to go to court to have their democratic rights acknowledged.

"I can't guarantee that we will get on but I want to ensure we focus on doing what is best for the whanau of Waipareira."

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