Dec 6, 2012

Citizen Tuheitia...

Should Kingi Tuheitia stand down? It’s a valid question, surely. In an attempt to apply further pressure on Tom Roa and the remaining members of Te Arataura, Tuheitia has released a second open letter claiming that “Waikato -Tainui is once more at the edge of an abyss.” Well, yes, but is Tuheitia the right person to pull the tribe back?

It’s worth remembering that the Kingitanga is not an expression of power or sovereignty. The movement is an expression of and tool for unity. Tuheitia, however, appears to treat his office as if it's a cheap imitation of the worst aspects European Royal Protocol. In 2011 the Herald reported that:

Guests are encouraged to lead conversation, although it should be kept to only two subjects, and people should ask only polite questions, keeping the whole encounter to one or two minutes maximum.

Guests are also encouraged to refer to Tuheitia as “your majesty”. Odd. I find it strange that royal protocols exist at all – Te Atairangikaahu did not keep a protocol guide. Hell, when she travelled the country she would stay at the homes of her friends and whanau. No hotels and chauffeurs, thank you very much. After all, the Kingitanga isn't about reverance and mana does not extend to those people with less having to act towards you with veneration.

Add to that a verbal incident that the Waikato Times reported in 2010. Apparently, in a meeting about Tania Martin and Te Kauhanganui, Tuheitia let rip against a kaumatua and Tame Iti’s sister. The King is reported to have asked the kaumatua whether he can “fucking read” and, when called on it, he told Iti if she doesn’t like it she can “fuck off”. Not the qualities you would expect of any leader, let alone the Maori King.

Waikato-Tainui members are also asking whether this is part of a continuing campaign for more power and money. In January this year Tuheitia first voiced his desire to “take control of the tribe’s parliament” and Chris Webster reports that the Office of the King has received millions in tribal funding from 2009. Earlier this year Tuheitia penned a plea in the tribal magazine for further funding. You have to ask whether the King's latest reach for power, read the first and the most recent open letters, are part of a pattern.

Another cause for worry is the King’s cartel of advisors. The King maintains a large office, in comparison to his mother at least, including Rangi Wallace who admitted to beating his step-daughter and her mother, Helen Kotua. Further to that, Wallace also owed $250,000 to IRD in 2011 and Kotua owed Baycorp over $3000. Kotua is the author of the protocols above. 

Tuheitia has also come under fire for appointing Greg Miller, a “Pakeha”, as his representative on Te Arataura. In a similar vein Tuheitia nominated Susan Cullen to the Board of Te Wananga o Aotearoa. Cullen, whose father was the CEO at the time, is reported to have earnt more than $74m in 5 years from contracts with the Wananga and shamelessly touts her worth at over $30m. The Auditor-General later released a damning report into the Wananga criticising them for extensive conflicts of interest, poor quality courses and more.

Tuku Morgan was instrumental in the nomination and when the Wananga refused to accept her, and rightly so, he threatened legal action. This brings us neatly to Tuku Morgan – the source of and/or contributor to so, so much hurt in the tribe. Arguably there is a direct correlation between Tuku Morgan and tribal infighting. Many thought tribal battles had reached their climax while Tuku was the head of Te Arataura. Remember Tuku met Tania Martin, the former tribal leader, in Court on numerous occasions and appeared on television to launch a public attack while he was heading the executive. Negotiation and compromise is not a concept Tuku understands, apparently.  

It’s sad and I’m not going to pretend I have the answers. Structural change, like I discussed in a previous post, is a start but no cure. The personalities are toxic too. If the King succeeds in cleaning out Te Arataura and much of Te Kauhanganui (I support that idea in principle)... should he follow suit? Discuss.

Post-script: It's worth noting that I'm not speaking from personal experience here - I'm drawing from what is in the public domain. Rumours are relayed to me, but I'm hesitant to publish them. Also, I don't necessarily think Tuheitia needs to go. He should have the chance to improve tribal politics, but if he fails or makes matters considerably worse... Well, then we need to ask whether he displays the qualities we expect of an Arikinui.  


  1. Morgan - well done. citizenry is alive and well in Outer Roa.

    In answer to Q01 - affirmative.

    In answer to Q02: is Tuheitia the right person to pull the tribe back? Hell No. He is the author & provocateur & victim & has wears so many hats - he needs a session with de bono & to undergo color therapy.

    In answer to this: Not the qualities you would expect of .. Maori King:

    My response is this: Well yes you do cos that's his street language. A most common quality Even the High Court was sufficiently impressed with citizen paki's intimate knowledge of english as it is spake - quoted him verbatim.

    In answer to this: Ask whether ..latest reach for power - ... are part of a pattern:

    My response is: Affirmative. Fee fi fo fum .. he smells the blood money of committee-mon. It has everything to do with the wicked & secret 2007 restructuring plan (see ROA V MORGAN HC HAM CIV 2008-419-1698 [16 Dec 2008 – where it was not been produced in evidence.]] of the bricks & mortar - where citizen paki would 'preside as tumu whakarae' & tuku will be in the line of fire -- as the solitary man - the controller.

    In answer to this: 'The personalities are toxic too. If the King succeeds in cleaning out Te Arataura and much of Te Kauhanganui (I support that idea in principle) ... should he follow suit?.

    My response is this. Toxic; access to millions of relativity dollars every 5 years; control & domination of decisions; control & domination of treasury; control to veto. Is that really going to work? Doubt it.
    Agree that the current structure needs assessing.
    Agree that the current membership (3xmarae reps) needs lots of discussions.
    Agree that Waikato TGH continues to blunder & underperform & teeter on the brink of debt & potential insolvency again & collapse & failure.
    And that would be unacceptable.
    But then the alternatives being promoted by a select few are also unacceptable.

  2. Very interesting read Morgan. I have been in conflict mostly because of the affection I held and still hold for Te Atairangi Kahu whom I believed to be "collaborative" in her tenure as the figurehead. I definitively enjoyed her carriage, her manner and her attitude... the best word I can prescribe to her is "peaceful". And that is what I think the position is... a figurehead. She was a servant, not one who desired to be served. How this movement has attracted a European veneer is indeed very strange. My conflict is that I actually agree with your view. As a descendant of Ngati Whatua, and a descendant of Tumutumuwhenua who is a deity of the earth itself, I have no consideration to the idea of Kingitanga other than its philosophy to unify.

    This perception may in turn offend those of Tainui heritage, but it is not with that intent, it is simply to state that the Kingitanga, other than relationships we brokered with the movement, did no favours to me or my iwi. I believe the Kingitanga movement should hold to the matters of the wairua hei manaaki, hei tiaki, hei awhina i a tatou te iwi maori.

    1. Touche Te Aroha - the Kingitanga is about unity & togetherness in peace - my views are similar I have no consideration to the Kingitanga other than its purpose of unity. If Tainui go down the road that Tuheitia is suggesting and with the support of his advisors than the Kingitanga becomes Tainui's millstone not mine or other iwi for that matter - tautoko ahau i a koe Te Aroha

  3. I think we are in a period of history in which the old models of leadership just don't work. Kings and Queens? Figureheads and no more! And it would help Tuheitia if he came across as being, um, clever. And if not clever, he needs access to clever people and be clever enough to use them wisely...

  4. Tuheitia is our representative for us Maori and just like John Key is for the nation of Aotearoa.
    Respect is earned from what you give and can only be from those who respect you for who you are and what you do and how you do it.
    Disrespectful people should not be whether you stand as the Maori King or you are the Prime Minister because we are all human and do not want to live on our land with divide.

  5. Im thinking of disconnecting from Tainui, will i get a payout if i do? Most unlikely, and therein lies the problem of who is Tainui and what value does it have. You could say that its shallow to equate belonging with money, but take away the raupatu money and lets see whose your daddy. Why does Te Rapa base pull in money for Tainui yet, anyone of Tainui descent doesnt get any immediate and direct benefits when shopping there. Why cant 10 seats at the movies be reserved for Tainui whanau when its over 75% filled capacity. The answer? Money & Profit is first and foremost for the Tainui Group Holdings. A new vision is needed where Tainui whanau benefit immediately & fairly while making a profit.

  6. Kiaora anon 5:32pm. It's all too easy to write your post off as wanting 'money'. But in fact you have every right to ask those sorts of questions. It is your along with your descendants right to benefit from the settlement. The current model of settlements is paternalistic and open to the abuse we are currently witnessing within Tainui. The model of centralised putea, one shareholder, and distributions to projects that will somehow benefit 'beneficiaries' perpetuates the cycle of handout that dogs us as Maori. You should be entitled to a share holding of your settlement - or at the very least, the ability to invest in non-settlement asset purchases. At least then you get a direct return (and possible loss) based on your own skin in the game. It's better than this top down filtering stuff that sees ticket clipping all the way down to the 'beneficiary' of the settlement.

  7. Tainui is having Internal power struggle and I always envisioned Monarchy as a device that preserved democracy and avoided interfering with democracy Kingi Tuheitia is doing a great disservice to the Kingitanga movement longevity if he continues to interfere Tainui will carry on with or without the Kingitanga movement.

  8. Kia ora Morgan... good read... I'm in the process of disconnecting from my own Iwi... as the money has become more important than the people and those in charge seem to take the money from settlements then point to the bank account to claim SUCCESS... when in reality we all contributed to that settlement and it belongs to all of us... Not just to those who sit around the board table. Nga mihi Morgan

  9. Because Tainui is now a corporation and not an iwi. Iwi members a now shareholders and now can divest themselves from the corporation (if they ever get a payout that is). The issue is that the settlement extinguishes your treaty rights. But given that Tainui have prevented many eligiable people from being benficiaries, it has impoverishing those hapu and whanau by extinguishing their Treaty rights. This is a Treaty breach and those hapu and whanu will sue against or take class action suits in the future.



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