21 Oct 2013

Ngai Tahu elder calls for the Maori Council to be scrapped

9:53 am on 21 October 2013

A Ngai Tahu leader says the Maori Council needs to be allowed to die a peaceful death, and the Iwi Leaders Forum should take up the role as the main pan-tribal body.

Sir Tipene O'Regan says the Maori Council was established during a time when the Government had quite a paternal attitude toward Maori, and it is a relic of the past.

He says the Maori Council has served a valuable purpose as a convening entity to summon tangata whenua to various debates and discussions.

But Sir Tipene says the Maori Council has gone past its used-by date.

He says the council is an institutional structure and its current format was invented by the National Government in the 1960s as a paternalistic device for exercising bureaucratic control over Maori.

The Ngai Tahu elder says the make-up of the Iwi Leader's Forum, with a decent substructure of tribal runanga behind it, is infinitely preferable.

He says during his involvement with the council and the litigation against the Crown, the council itself never produced any evidence, and it didn't provide any affidavits of any substance - it was always a convenor - rather than a driver and a thinker.

Sir Tipene says the Maori Council shouldn't really be allowed to hang on to its payment from the Crown, it should be allowed to die a peaceful death.

Maori Council calls Ngai Tahu ungrateful

In response, the Maori Council says Sir Tipene O'Regan is ungrateful about the hand that gave his tribe their largesse.

Council co-chair Maanu Paul says he's quite surprised Sir Tipene has made the remarks, given he was instrumental with the council in gaining fishing quota for all iwi, leading to Maori owning close to 50% of the fishery.

He says all of the benefits that Te Wai Pounamu accrued under the leadership advice of Sir Tipene O'Regan, were acquired by the Maori Council.

Mr Paul says some Maori leaders need to realise just where their support has come from, and who was responsible for getting it.

He says the Maori Council has proved that it is needed by taking recent Waitangi Tribunal claims on water and the radio spectrum.

Mr Paul says the Maori Council is the only true pan-tribal entity that spearheads Maori rights.

The legislation that oversees the Maori Council is currently under review by the Government.