There was standing room only at a hui held so Sonny (Raniera) Tau could apologise to his elders but one Ngapuhi kaumatua has criticised the meeting saying it should have been held at a marae with more notice.
The hui was held at the Ngapuhi runanga offices in Kaikohe on Friday morning, with only a day's notice. It was called by Ngapuhi kaumatua and kuia so Mr Tau could apologise to his elders and tell them his "side of the story" after kukupa were allegedly found in his possession at Invercargill Airport on June 16.
Mr Tau said he would step down as chairman of the Ngapuhi Runanga if it was the wish of his elders but Ngapuhi kuia Nora Rameka said the 100 or so elders in attendance unanimously agreed he should continue in his role.
On Friday, it was also announced Mr Tau would appear in the Invercargill District Court on Friday, July 24, to face charges of hunting/killing kukupa and possessing the protected birds.
Mrs Rameka said news of the charges came to light during the hui but kaumatua and kuia who attended the meeting accepted Mr Tau's apology.
"Ngapuhi kaumatua and kuia give our support to Raniera to continue the work he has done in the last 15 years," she said.
The hui was open to the public but Ngapuhi kaumatua Kingi Taurua said news of the hui surprised him.
"I got a call from someone who asked if I'd seen the Maori Television item with 90 kaumatua and kuia called to support Sonny."
Mrs Rameka said the hui was held at the Te Runanga a iwi o Ngapuhi office and said news of the hui was sent out via email and word of mouth.
Mr Taurua said the hui should have been held at a marae with more notice.
"How am I meant to read [an email]? Kaumatua don't know how to use a computer. I don't know how to use a computer."
Mr Taurua said if a hui were to be held at Waitangi Marae with more notice, he expected more than 100 elders to turn up.
"The population of Ngapuhi is big. A lot are very opposed to what he has done."