Maniapoto paintings unfolding saga

By Mānia Clarke
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Paintings of Maniapoto ancestors taken from the iwi trust board room have been found. Former Te Wānanga head Rongo Wetere says the paintings are his and he's reclaimed them after becoming dissatisfied with the process to settle Ngāti Maniapoto's treaty claim.

Maniapoto Māori Trust board member Mr Wetere says he's taken back a collection of oil paintings that belong to him.

“Yes sure I admit to that, I put those paintings there myself roughly 27 years ago.  I commissioned the artists.  I paid for them and made them available to the iwi and to the trust board.”

Ngāti Maniapoto deputy chair Keith Ikin says, “Today we checked our minutes. We saw that in '89, the decision of the board at the time was to purchase those paintings, to pay the cost. The board agreed to the price and paid it.”

The iwi trust board is currently seeking a mandate from the tribe to carry out their land claim. 

But Wetere says it should go to the high court.

“I've made my concerns known for over 18months that they cannot sell out to the crown and minimise claim proceeds for all of our people.”

Last night, the iwi trust board posted on Facebook that paintings of Maniapoto tūpuna had been taken without their knowledge. They included prominent leaders such as Tā Pei Te Hurinui Jones, Henare Tuwhangai, Dame Rangimarie Hetet and Diggeress Te Kanawa. 

Wetere says, “The achievers from Ngāti Maniapoto huge contribution to Maniapoto, that's why I did it 27 sitting in a negative environment.”

Mr Ikin says, “We don't want to take this issue to the police. Instead, we want to sit together and talk with Rongo. By talking face-to-face, the board really hopes to resolve this.”

Police are speaking with all parties and inquiries are continuing, with Waikato District Police staff and iwi liaison officers assisting. As inquiries are ongoing, police are unable to comment further on this matter.

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