The New Zealand Māori Council has elected a new sole Chairman. Sir Taihakurei (Eddie) Durie was voted to chair the council at the weekend.
The move comes after Sir Wira Gardiner was appointed to oversee the election of the chairman.
But former New Zealand Māori Council Co-Chair and Mataatua Māori District Chairman, Maanu Paul, believes that the weekend meeting was unlawful.
It follows months of disputes and in fighting. But the NZ Māori Council is hoping to move forward.
“This is the start of something new. The other thing that I think is very important is that we have now got set up at our meeting, and it was a very positive meeting, a new set of policies and practices that will deal with all the issues that have been going on in the past about whether we are following the right processes and so on,” said Sir Taihakurei.
“It will just clarify things and make it absolutely clear how things can be managed so that if Maanu has a complaint there is a complaints process. There is a disputes process and hopefully this will deter people from continuing to going into the court,” he said.
Sir Taihakurei was elected the new sole chair at a hui in Wellington on Saturday.
But the former co-chair, Maanu Paul claims processes were still not followed, that seven districts boycotted and he challenged voting numbers.
“They appointed and brought people who we have just met, the majority were new comers. There are many processes under the NZ Māori Council’s legislation which they didn’t follow. So we are firm on our position, that this is all invalid,” said Maanu Paul.
Sir Taihakurei says: “I think it is very sad for a great person who has contributed to a great deal to the NZ Māori Council over many years. I am very disappointed that that is his position and I just hope that he is not being badly advised.”
District members of the New Zealand Māori Council had been split on whom to back.
In February, one hui in Auckland voted for an audit of council accounts and elected Maanu Paul as the sole chairman.
“A number of our people were very upset by that and felt that people were taking the law into their own hands. They were claiming that they were the legitimate Māori Council and we needed clarification. We needed certainty. So we got that certainty and we got it very quickly,” said Sir Taihakurei.
This month, Sir Taihakurei applied to the High Court which ruled neither he nor Maanu Paul could say they were the sole chair and that the issue of chairmanship needed to be determined in accordance with the Māori Community Development Act 1962.
It further ordered that no audit could take place without approval of the Māori Council.
Sir Wira Gardiner was appointed to oversee an election of a new chair last Saturday.
This time, Sir Taihakurei was voted in and a new executive team appointed.
“We were able to assure members at their meeting yesterday (Saturday) that we were the legitimate group and there was an independent chairman appointed by the Court to make sure that the proper processes were applied. So I think we’ve handed it very properly to give assurances to all people, to make sure to all our constituencies that we were following proper processes,” said Sir Taihakurei.
Maanu Paul says his lawyers are now filing an injunction to the High Court to overturn any resolution from the weekend and that a forensic audit of council accounts should continue.
For now, Sir Taihakurei is set to hold the position as chair for a three year term.