Members of the Iwi Leaders Forum will meet with new Kaipara Mayor Craig Jepson - whether he wants to hui or not.
Dame Naida Glavish (Ngāti Whātua Ki Kaipara) has called the meeting after Jepson’s refusal to allow a karakia to open the first council meeting last week.
The ban of karakia ignoring tikanga Māori has drawn the fury and visceral ire of the forum.
Four times Jepson refused requests by Pera Paniora, the representative of Māori ward Te Moananui o Kaipara, to start with karakia at the first full Kaipara District Council meeting in Mangawhai.
“There is no reaction one can have other than this is absolute and utter racist behaviour. Does he forget that it was the English that brought prayers and Christianity to this country?” Glavish said.
Her disgust is shared by 12 iwi chairs across the motu who are similarly outraged by Jepson’s conduct.
They all support Paniora along with Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon. Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta has yet to comment.
Section 4 of the legislation, Local Government Act 2022 stipulates the Crown and local authorities’ responsibility to take appropriate account of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The mayor campaigned in the local elections opposing of co-governance and was against the introduction of Māori wards without public consultation in Kaipara.
Yet he has also publicly affirmed he would honour the Treaty of Waitangi as mayor.
The 12 iwi from Tāmaki Makaurau to Te Rerenga Wairua and all the chairs have agreed to meet the mayor - whether he wants to meet or not.
“We’ve been having karakia since time immemorial – I question whether he is there to be mayor of the region of Kaipara – or is he there to make sure he blocks Māori by starting with karakia,” Glavish said.
“We are now wondering what his next move is going to be however he will not get away with it. We will be standing directly in front of him.”
Glavish said this development is in stark contrast to the constructive, long-standing relationship Ngati Whatua ki Kaipara has had previously with the council.
“Absolutely we have had a good relationship under the leadership of the previous mayor – where we worked together on the issues with roads, schools, and housing.
“We worked incredibly well together – there was never any insight to what was going to come next. It’s extremely difficult to believe we are having this conversation in 2022.”
The rangatira was clear that mana whenua will not abide by the sanction.
“Karakia is important to us because we have practised it for aeons of generations – the christianity that the mayor wants to stop is his business but he will never, ever stop karakia – never.”
The hui with the mayor “in our Kaipara” will take place this week, Glavish said.