23 Aug 2011

Internal strife at Maori Council

10:21 pm on 23 August 2011

A row has blown up within the New Zealand Maori Council after one of its senior figures was expelled for speaking publicly.

Council deputy chair Richard Orzecki says Maanu Paul was expelled for bringing the organisation into disrepute by making public comments.

Mr Paul has spoken to the media on a number of issues, the latest being about the organisation's Waitangi Tribunal claim for water ownership rights on behalf of 30 hapu.

Sir Graham Latimer, who chaired the council, appointed Mr Paul to deputise for him in 2010 when he stood down from the council due to illness.

The council says Sir Graham had no right to do that and Mr Orzecki says it took about five months before most of the 14 executive district chairs voted to remove Mr Paul.

He says it was not an easy decision but in the end the council felt its own authority was being undermined by an individual who purported to represent them but who did not have the support of the council.

Mr Paul told Radio New Zealand's Te Manu Korihi programme that he has not been sacked and will continue to comment publicly until Sir Graham tells him not to.

He also says the expulsion is not warranted because the executive members haven't told him why the action's been taken or even called a meeting to discuss it.

But, Mr Orzecki says Maanu Paul has been notified in writing.

In a statement, Sir Graham said Mr Orzecki is out of line for talking publicly about internal matters and that reflects poorly on the Maori Council.