A city council Māori committee has accused newly elected councillor Andrew Hollis of what it views as "hate speech" and is refusing to work with him on any issue relating to Māori.
In a letter addressed to mayor Tenby Powell and provided to the Bay of Plenty Times, the committee - Te Rangapu Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana (formerly known as the Tauranga Moana Tangata Whenua Collective) - said it had met to discuss Hollis' remarks about the Treaty of Waitangi.
Hollis' comments on social media included calling the Treaty a "joke", suggesting burning it would be a good idea and calling for New Zealand to become a republic and "end the Treaty gravy train".
The committee's move came on the day of the inaugural meeting of the newly elected council - an event beset by a series of protests largely sparked by Hollis' comments.
Te Rangapu chairman Puhiraki Ikaha said in the letter:
"The people we represent find those remarks to be deeply offensive and, in their view, racist, and not what we expect from an at large councillor supposedly representing an electorate which includes mana whenua interests.
"Those remarks, in the committee's opinion, could be interpreted as 'hate speech'.
"Te Rangapu support your [Powell's] statement that Mr Hollis should resign. Until such time Te Rangapu will not engage Mr Hollis on any kaupapa that has a Māori component."
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He said Hollis had shown, in his view, a pre-determined position and had a conflict of interest in dealing with Māori issues, with the Treaty being the "document that underpins our relationship with Tauranga City Council".
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Hollis said the hate speech accusation was "complete rubbish".
"I am 100 per cent happy that the words I used were not hate speech and not racism."
He said people were choosing to be offended.
"Offence is taken not given."
Hollis said everyone had a right to protest, including Te Rangapu.
He said he would not apologise, nor would he resign and he had no conflict.
"I have nothing to apologise for."
He said he would work with mayor Tenby Powell and chief executive Marty Grenfell around his relationships with iwi, and has also expressed an interest in meeting with leaders.
Powell said he had received a copy of Te Rangapu's letter. Asked how he would manage the situation, he said: "My job is to build a bridge but I don't see that happening in a hurry.
"They're [Te Rangapu] angry now and they need to be angry.
"This is another wound but I am still very focused on uniting a divided city and leading some healing. That will happen in time if the will and the mindfulness is there."
He said this was "another wound" for a city in need of healing, but he remained committed to working towards unity.
Hollis was deeply resolved in his views about the Treaty, he said, but he felt Hollis had been making some more conciliatory comments.
Powell said there was more work to do to improve the council's relationship with iwi.
"The city has been held back by lack of engagement with iwi this past term."
Te Rangapu - a collective of 16 hapu and iwi in Tauranga - have had a relationship with the council since 2000.
Ihaka called for a "reset" of relationships with the council, saying the group did not feel there was a partnership.
The Hollis issue followed a string of "negative" decisions on mana whenua-linked issues including 11 Mission St and the museum on Cliff Rd by previous councils.
"Recent decisions show a lack of understanding and knowledge about our history and how that affects us, your constituents."
Ihaka was among Māori leaders who greeted Hollis as part of the official pōwhiri, but left when he made his declaration. Ihaka also walked out of the council chamber when Hollis made his speech.