NZ Māori Council must heal

The man who fought for new elections of the Auckland Māori District Council has called for healing rather than destruction.

Daniel Nehemia has broken his silence on why he sought and won a High Court ruling for new elections in Tāmaki Makaurau.

“We need to move away from destruction and return to the important foundation of why we are here.  It is time for the New Zealand Māori Council to move forward with the generation of today,” said Mr Nehemia.

Last month, the High Court in Wellington ruled the 2015 elections of the Auckland District Māori Council had not followed process and were invalid.  The elections had appointed Titewhai Harawira as the Auckland chairperson and other representatives including John Tamihere.  New elections for Auckland will now be held in February 2018.

Mr Nehemia, a registered minister of the Ratana Church of Aotearoa and iwi member of Ngāti Whātua, Ōrakei in Auckland, confirmed he would be seeking election.

“It’s an opportunity to once again sit at the table and represent our people here in Tāmaki.  But we must also look at rebuilding our relationships and to put differences aside with respect and integrity,” he said.

It follows a tumultuous time for the New Zealand Māori Council, which led some of the biggest advancements for Māori in land, fisheries, Māori broadcasting and forestry since being created in 1962.

But a severe breakdown of relationships among the council’s Māori leadership spilled into the public arena in August 2015 with various allegations and counter-allegations flying.

It took two years for another High Court ruling to finally decide last month that Sir Taihakurei Durie was council chair and the removal of Māori leader, Maanu Paul, as co-chair.

“The in-house problems were issues between individuals but it affected those of us on the outside.   It affected our families, our tamariki and our mokopuna because important issues like housing, employment and transport were not being addressed,” said Mr Nehemia.

“The health of our people, looking after the sick, taking care of the homeless and making sure our land is safe for generations to come is what matters.  I’ve held my silence but it’s time for us to talk again as Ōrakei, as Tāmaki Makaurau, as Māori with respect.”

Mr Nehemia said he was excited to be attending a national executive hui next month to discuss the February elections and how a new generation could lead the New Zealand Māori Council forward.