24 Aug 2011

Maori Council expulsion viewed as in-house dispute

9:02 am on 24 August 2011

The lawyer representing a New Zealand Maori Council member says the expulsion of her client is just an in-house fight between senior members.

Maanu Paul was removed from the council for speaking to the media.

Chair Sir Graham Latimer last year named Mr Paul to deputise for him.

Mr Paul says Sir Graham has given him the right to comment publicly on behalf of Council.

But deputy chair Richard Orzecki says Sir Graham had no right to appoint Mr Paul - saying that's a decision for executive district chairs to make.

He says eleven of the 14 district chairs voted to removed Mr Paul in May.

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 says 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 have not told him why the action's been taken or even called a meeting to discuss it.

But, Mr Orzecki says Mr 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.

Donna Hall, the lawyer acting for Sir Graham and Mr Paul, says this is an internal dispute that needs to be straightened out.