Two Ngati Rangitihi groups are wrestling over mandate issues and whether they should withdraw from the Te Arawa Fisheries Trust.

Te Mana o Ngati Rangitihi Trust is currently asking for mandate to represent the tribe for the purpose of applying to withdraw from the Te Arawa Fisheries Trust. A special meeting is being held on Saturday at Rangitihi Marae in Matata.

Andre Paterson is the present trustee on Te Arawa Fisheries Trust and also the chairman of Ngati Rangitihi Raupatu Trust. He said he was elected by the iwi to represent Ngati Rangitihi. Mr Paterson maintains Te Mana o Ngati Rangitihi's mandate is solely to deal with the Central North Island forestry treaty settlement. He said Te Mana should have consulted with the iwi first before going through the voting process, which he said had been rushed. He is also concerned that tribal members who had not registered would not be able to vote.

In response Graham Pryor, the chairman of Te Mana, said in their view Te Mana already held the sole mandate from Ngati Rangitihi.


"However, we consider it prudent to hold a mandating hui to confirm this mandate. This is mainly because it could be argued that there is nothing automatic about our existing mandate in respect of Ngati Rangitihi's forestry assets applying in respect of the iwi's fisheries assets."

Mr Pryor said a panui was first sent out via their database on July 29 indicating an opportunity to review the arrangement with Te Arawa Fisheries. Te Mana has been holding online and postal voting and the special meeting being held will enable beneficiaries to vote on the mandate issue and withdrawing.

According to Mr Pryor the 2006 census figures listed about 1500 people who affiliate to Ngati Rangitihi. He said there were 3821 registered beneficiaries on the Te Mana o Ngati Rangitihi database.

"We have a register of members that exceeds the number of Ngati Rangitihi registered on Te Arawa Fisheries' register, and identified in the 2006 census, and our trust deed has a robust voting process through which the views of iwi members can be heard. The Te Mana o Ngati Rangitihi Trust is the only legitimate entity representing the iwi at this time. Registration has been open to all within the iwi and actively encouraged."

The Te Mana o Ngati Rangitihi website allows members to vote and register and both postal and online voting ends today. The group has also said the reason the process was rushed was because the window of opportunity for Ngati Rangitihi to apply to withdraw from Te Arawa Fisheries closes on September 9, 2011.

There have been claims and innuendo that money received by different tribal groups and members have not gone back to the iwi and these transactions lack transparency and accountability. Both trusts maintain they have met these requirements.

The Te Arawa Fisheries Trust has held two meetings with Ngati Rangitihi on the benefits of staying in the group. Last Saturday, Mr Paterson with Ron Roberts and Shane Heremaia, chairman and CEO of the trust, made presentations at a meeting held at Rangitihi Marae, Matata.

As well as Ngati Rangitihi, Tapuika from Te Puke and at least two other iwi are looking at exiting the Te Arawa Fisheries Trust. The trust deed allows participating Te Arawa iwi to withdraw five years after the trust was recognised as a joint mandated iwi organisation. The last day to register an intention to withdraw is September 12.