Monday, 3 November 2014

The “Boys Club” Paradigm Shift . . . Tīhei Mana Wahine

Kia ora koutou o Ngāti Awa
Tirohia mai anō rā tēnei pūhara; hoki mai anō rā ki - Tū Mai Te Toki.
Me kii, koinei te reo karanga e tuku whānuitia ai te mōhiotanga o ngā nekeneke e ahatia ana wa tātau rawa-a-iwi e to tātau Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa; e tū mataara ai tātau.  
Puta hōhonu mai ana wēnei kōrero i ngā hui o ngā Pū Arahi e whakahaeretia nei e Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa (TRONA).
Ko te whakaaro i uru mai ki au, kāore ano nei kia āta poupou pūmautia pēna ka tū-a-marama; a-rua-marama, rānei, ngā hui Pū Arahi o TRONA.   Engari, hei tēnei wā, ia rua marama, ka tū aua hui - he mea whakaheke iho i te utu mo aua hui.   
I tae atu ahau ki te hui i te 31 o Whiringa a Nuku 2014.   Koinei te wā tuatahi mo taku mau i tēnei pōtae, te tū hei kai tuhi mo Tū Mai Te Toki.
Na reira, nau mai rā; haere mai rā; hoki mai rā.

Be ever on full alert; welcome back to - Tū Mai Te Toki, (the sentry post).
May we exalt this as the voice for information sharing of the management by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa of our iwi assets, so we may be fully aware of where it’s all at.
The depths of information is derived of governance hui conducted by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa (TRONA).
I gain the impression that there is not yet consistency and stability of monthly or bi-monthly conduct of these hui.    However, presently, hui are conducted bi-monthly as a cost-cutting measure. 
I attended the hui held 31st October 2014.   This is my inaugural hui wearing this hat as writer for Tū Mai te Toki.
Without further ado, a warm welcome back to you all.

Kōrero whakataki (Introduction)
As I re-energise in this role, I am thinking - a Reo Rangatira version, translated to te reo a tauiwi, is our goal;  adorned with te mita o Ngāti Awa.
There are understandable concerns amongst hapu representatives that the conduct of bi-monthly governance meetings means larger volumes of business in limited time, and, therefore, quality information sharing is compromised.  
The hui started 9:30am, with one hour (scrumptious) lunch break, and closed at 4:10pm.
Overall the hui emanated positivity - generated by more robust spontaneity of hapu representatives and the positivity of the recent Ngāti Awa Te Toki Festival.

Te whakatika i ngā kino – Allaying negativities
We are all by now aware of recent publicity of findings by independent auditor of irregularities afflicting Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi (TWWOA) performing arts programme.  The outcome of that is TWWOA is to refund $6million to Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).   The following was reported to TRONA representatives –

Hirini Mead
When it happens it hurts a lot of people and the hurt is shared by hundreds of people.  So it is not something the wānanga is proud of.
The students themselves have been affected by it, their relations, the staff and all our supporters around the country, so there is a huge job for the wānanga to try to calm everything down.
We are trying hard to calm everyone down, and reasure them that we are doing things to try to fix it up as quickly as possible to try to reassure everyone in the country, and overseas.

Layne Harvey said he had represented the wānanga at the rūnanga meetings in May, August.
He said the Delolittes audit started in September.
The moment those audits were concluded we told the chief executive officer write to all of the directors.
He described the situation as the perfect storm involving misconduct swirling together to create the situation that we are in.
The wānanga has refunded the money back to the funding authority.
No money is lost, squandered, or stolen.
Mr Harvey said the wānanga had gained approval from NZQA to change the course.
Obviously there are now denials, and that’s a continuing conversation that we have been having.
217 students are affected.
Former staff submitted an invoice confirming that 18 weeks tuition had been delivered when they had not been.
The serious fraud office are not investigating Awanuiarangi.
That is the one point that has to be stressed that some different measures need to be looked into, including some legal.
It may involve suing trusts in other tribal areas, and pursuing the trustees and making them bankrupt to get the money we say is due to us.
217 opportunities are underway to complete the course work to properly be accredited points to their qualification.
1 staff is dismissed for misconduct; other consequences may follow.
1 is going through the HR process.
We cannot say who it is; and what is going to happen.
The TWWOA council is taking all steps to make sure this doesn’t affect us.
Those who are directly responsible are being made to be accountable, and unfortunately it may require the full force of the law, and that will affect tribal relationships.
Is there any point in pursuing people who don’t have any assets, to achieve the remedy?

Wira Gardiner
Deal with all of the Wellington parts.   He has visited several ministers,  including Joyce, to reassure the ministries and government.
To give them confidence that the matters have been dealt with in the appropriate way according to law.
This afffects one side of our business; the bulk of our business is still functioning properly.
There is another review.   Once we know the update of that review we will update the rūnanga.
Wira is now the “external” face of wānanga.
Sending the message to all of the stakeholders that we are on top of it,  we are going to fix it,  and it is never going to happen again.
The wānanga council has six places for rūnanga representation.
A strong balance sheet of $53m, and income was $20m for the last financial year.
While we had to pay out almost $6m from our reserves, it continues to be healthy.
We were able to create a silo, and have it quarterized.
No process system can be designed to act against an individual who had high trust in the orgnaisation, especially when that high trust individual breaches the confidence of the organistaion.
We think we have got it.
We now have to look at all the associated courses that these invidudals have touched, and we know that we are not going to find more of the pirau.
We agreed with the government that we have got to do another review.   That’s another signal that we are not letting this rest.
WIT (Western Institute of Technology) in Taranaki are facing similar charges as Awanuiarangi.
In the next month or two other polyctechs are now under scrutiny, and more will be found.
My view is that we will chase those people who owe us money, and we will use the full force of the legal avenues possible to us.
All we can say officially and publicly is that the matter is with the serious fraud office and it is  investigating further.
If we have to chase them (the culprits) then we have to chase them.
Joe Mason
For the last 25 years we have been leasing part of the Whare Wānanga to TWWOA at $1 a year; and that has been happening for the last 25 years.
At the last meeting,  Audit New Zealand has raised with us that it is not really a risk in terms of the arrangement.   We haven’t got a lease in place and there is no lease agreement.   Awanuiarangi could be kicked off at a moment’s notice.
Either we sell the place to Awanuiarangi,  or rent it,  and have a long term lease to make their postion more suitable.

Te Kāhui Kaumātua
Hemana Eruera
There were two relevant issues that we discussed.   The first one was that we have been approached by Paul Francis because he wants to utilise the railway track from Pekatahi to Awakeri.
He consulted us because he’s facing a bit of difficulty with the council and he has asked iwi if we can suport him.   The Kāhui Kaumātua have given its support.
Te Kāhui Kaumātua have also given Ngāti Hokopū their suport for the Ngāti Hokopū application.
Maanu Paul indicated that he had applied to be a director of the tribe’s financial arm - NAGHL.   I will be present at the Appointments and Remunerations Committee (ARC) meetings, but I step outside whenever these issues are in place.
Charlie Bluett has been placed on NAGHL temporarily until the new appointments are made.   The resolution was passed by Pouroto Ngaropo and Materoa Dodd.
Te nako o te kōrero (At the heart of hui proceedings)
The Draft Annual Plan
As constituents of Ngāti Awa it is important to know that the Annual Plan is drawn from Te Ara Poutama 50 year plan, from which has been produced the Five Years Strategic Direction 2013 to 2018 document; then, the Annual Plan is taken from that document, which, is the guiding tool to progressively realise the Ara Poutama vision of the next 12 months.
Given that the strategic direction commenced 2013, the plan is a year behind in implementation, and, given the available TRONA resources, it is in order to ask, WHY the delay?  
Pouroto Ngaropo stated this is the first ever Annual Plan, and that several hapu representatives’ orientation workshops have been held at Te Manuka Tutahi Marae.   He stated that in response to requests for more time to prudently scrutinise the Annual Plan.

Enid Ratahi-Pryor - CEO
Enid gave her power point presentation.  
 It oozed of positivity of feedback and reports of the Ngāti Awa Festival held Labour Weekend 25th to 27th October 2014.   Such was the subtleties of enticing panache I was left thinking, “I hope the hapu representatives are awake to this style.”
I was not disappointed.   While positivity is cause for celebration, the risk of it detracting attention from important management issues was, fortunately, avidly kept on track by the 21 representatives present.   Some expressed concerns that the glossy power point presentation should not substitute a preferred hard copy for respective hapu discussion and archival record.
I, personally, did not go to the Labour weekend Ngati Awa Festival due to other commitments.   Nevertheless, I had opportunity to follow the positivity on Facebook, which, was amplified at the TRONA hui. 
The power point included the budget and costs of the Festival.   TRONA had set a budget of    $20 000, however, the event ended up costing $49 245, including; $9 600 on seating, $4 500 for marquee hire, advertising of $8 040 and a staff bill of $4 000.  The total cost of the event was            $74 000, however, $25,200 sponsorship left a final bill of $49 245.
How that deficit is to be offset is not clear.  
Enid stated –
We are over by $29,000, so we are asking can you find it?
If this went to a marae it will be a lot more expensive.   If this event goes outside Te Mānuka Tūtahi marae that will increase costs.
Della Te Pere (Ngati Awa Te Toki Festival organiser)
Politically TRONA is set up to look after us through business and everything. The Ahi Kaa committee is not.
There is a different level of movement that happens there, so that it doesn’t get caught up in the politics of here.   Ngāti Awa Te Toki needs to start planning now for the next years.

Given that this is the second Ngāti Awa Festival event, but, the first bursting with cultural extravaganza, we can expect it to be a valuable learning curve in organising iwi-wide cultural enrichment of grand scale.
Finding forgiveness of a deficit of over twice the budget estimate, in times of reportedly tight financial constraints, is a big ask.   It reflects continuing fluidity of boundaries between governance and management, and, in particular, the capriciousness in formulating credible sustainable costs.
Twice over budget exposes a number of risks, including that it is now a tool to justify future indiscriminate flagging of these “growing the people” events because it’s simply not affordable.   There were strong overtones that if hapu wish to continue with these events then each could take up the responsibility of organising it, including financial contributions.
Delegating between traditional, (ahi kaa), and contemporary, (politically orientated), practices, as suggested, is not a solution I would buy into.  
That is, limited resourced ahi kaa taking care of tūturu tikanga, while well-resourced TRONA is tasked to generate and manage wealth for all our benefit, is already a proven clash of ao tūroa and ao hurihuri values.   
Over the years since the 2005 settlement, and before, we have seen distasteful examples of Ahi Kaa (Te Kāhui Kaumātua) bullying, to smother justifiable challenges to questionable TRONA bad practices.   The “boys-club” thrives on that old guard bullying; kept alive by “on demand” intimidating Ahi Kaa intervention.   By my recall, it inflicted $9million of impairment write-off, without proper explanation, and we can hardly call that acceptable accountability.   Somewhere in that grey cloud, a rich pakeha and identifiable NAGHL Directors, engaged in poor investments, without due diligence and due process, amounting to serious abuse of iwi funds, and, effectively, got away with it.   My understanding is the pakeha is still a wealthy businessman, as are the NAGHL Directors and key TRONA persons involved in that poor investment twist of bad faith.                 
It was a very full Agenda, and, quality time to grasp and fully understand the issues was questioned by a number of hapu representatives.
The Annual Plan drew responses of –
Paul Quinn  -  It is “far too busy” and we need to take it away for further scrutiny – there are too many strategies and not enough time to prudently approve it today, (as was the expectation).” 
What are the strategies, and what are the action plans?
Maanu Paul  -   “Āta whakangāwaritia; āta whakarāpopototia; (carefully make it easier, and shorter, for better understanding).”
No where in this plan is there the process for the hapu.
Serenah Nicholson  -
The plan was about reo, education and housing.
I don’t see anything representing that in your plan.
We have lost the PTE (Private Training Establishment).   The rūnanga doesn’t have its own health arm, that is under Te Tohu o te Ora o Ngāti Awa (Ngāti Awa Social and Health).
I don’t think I see anything that represents the KPI of achieving it.
I’m a bit worried about us because all we expect is for NAGHL to give us money, we are not talking about innovative things.
I can’t see anything happening there.   There is nothing on the radar to tell me that we could be satisfied sufficient to approve this plan.
Enid Ratahi-Pryor -
We are running a $400,000 budget deficit.
We do have a hau ora, NASH is our hau ora.
The reason it doesn’t show up in here is because we do not have the budget to provide health.
If Development Ngati Awa (DNA) needs to be more productive, then we need to have funds to support that space.
Joe Mason -
The Annual Plan should have been done before the corresponding budget, not after, as is the case; you either acccept it for what it is, or we go back to the wishy-washy ways we were doing before.
The Annual Plan was deferred to the next meeting, at end of November 2014.   The report was received but not approved.
Financial Report
Mana Newton Associate Director; Deloitte Professional Services
Is, currently, TRONA Acting CFO, (since January this year).  
His report follows –
NAGHL operating income of $1.5million.
Operating profit of $83,000.
There is an Operations Budget, and an Investments Budget.
Movements in investments is Market driven.
There is a $682,000 increase in assets.
The net profit, after minority interests adjustments, is - $139,000
There was unplanned expenditure including new buidlings and extra maintenance at the Tumurau farm;   we lifted up the shed and we found things as you always do, so the costs accumulated a little bit more than what was budgeted.
Audit Finance and Risks Committee (AFR)
An internal review is being conducted of the terms of reference (TOR) of the investment committee.   All NAGHL investments are on hold, as a more robust risk management system is needed.
Currently, there is an investments committee but until 7th December 2014 (the date of the 2014 AGM), there is only one person left.
The investment committee is on hold until the TOR is reviewed

CO2 credits
Currently, worth $4.30.
There has been no update on that.  
Deloitte estimated in 2010 that carbon credits would be worth $75.00, which, was the high end of the market, then re-valued it @ 50%, to $37.50.
NAGHL estimated future value of carbon credits of $20; because of the uncertainty they took a more conservative view that $20 is more appropriate.
The forests have been planted, and we do have a further contract to plant forest to the value of $700,000.   It is going to cost $700,000, and $130,000 every year for maintenance.   It is a 50 year contract, and the investment that has been made of $2.9m, has been impaired -  charged to the profit and loss account in the year in which it is transacted.
It is no longer an investment unless processes change.   Currently, management is reviewing the arrangement and that is all we can say.
The Mataatua Wharenui Financial Report is unaudited.
Audit Finance Risk (AFR) Committee
Made up of -
Peter Taylor, Regina O’Brien, Manurere Glen
Auditor is Deloitte.
No internal deficiencies;
Strong enough to produce financial statements;
Review of Terms of Reference;
Sign-off of invoices and all Management activity.
TRONA to approve –
1.     Financial Statements for Year ending 30th June 2014;
2.     Audit;
3.     Terms of Reference (TOR) Review;
Pahipoto Hapu representative, Tūwhakairiora O’Brien questioned – Who is doing the TOR Review?
Answer – the Audit Finance and Risks Committee.

Appointments and Remunerations Committee  (ARC)  - Materoa Dodd
(Discussions, held in committee)
This is a new committee assigned to appoint personnel, and set salaries.

NAGHL – The “Boys Club” paradigm shift
As recently advertised, all current five Directors of NAGHL have either resigned, or are due to rotate and will not be seeking re-election.   They are Joe Mason, Waaka Vercoe, Wira Gardiner, Brian Tunui, and interim – Paul Quinn.  
Following the “removal” of Graham Pryor, (who is replaced in the interim by Paul Quinn), earlier this year, the NAGHL Board, widely perceived as the “exclusive playground of the boys club,” has struggled to clean its less than satisfactory reputation.  
Is this the great migration paradigm shift?  
As the old saying goes – “It takes only one rotten apple to spoil the rest in the basket.”
What is obvious is that due diligence and due process fell way short of the mark.
Watch this space, e hoa mā!
(I learnt from my Ngā Maihi AGM, held Sunday 2nd November 2014, that, as at 3pm, Friday 31st October 2014, there are 65 Applicants for the 5 NAGHL Directors’ positions).  
That is now updated to a total 80 Applicants for 5 vacancies.
Maanu Paul and Paul Quinn are two of those 80 Applicants.
The ARC – Materoa Dodd, Dale Hunia, Serenah Nicholas, Joe Mason and Maanu Paul - is now tasked to long list and short list all Applicants, then, interview them, to choose the successful five.  Of course, Maanu Paul is to vacate ARC on this occasion due to his Applicant conflict of interest.   Hapu representatives will then endorse the ARC recommendations.   It is rumoured that there is opportunity for the iwi to also endorse (or dispute) those recommendations at the 7th December 2014 TRONA  AGM.   That is my understanding of the NAGHL appointments process.
Based on that understanding, I believe the potential appointment of Paul Quinn is a risk, given his involvement in the now impaired Birnie investment gone wrong, that he is very familiar with, and his current CEO of Ngāti Tūwharetoa Geothermal Assets (NTGA) contract requires further scrutiny.   It has been widely pubicised that Paul Quinn had some involvement in “the Birnie golf course development gone wrong” investment of several million dollars of NAGHL funds.    Paul Quinn, himself, confirmed to me, earlier this year, that Mr. Birnie is his personal friend.    Who Paul Quinn has in his social circles is his business, however, I am also entitled, as Ngāti Awa beneficiary, to share concerns about their involvement in failed investments of irrecoverable millions of NAGHL dollars.
Paul Quinn may not have had a direct involvement in the Birnie investment as he has told me, however, an indirect involvement is grounds to question, and conduct the required audit check of his suitability to be a NAGHL Director.      
My Ngāti Awa beneficiary view is – anyone with a tarnished track record, linked to NAGHL, should be treated with utmost scruple of conscience, that is, prudent discernment is a must.   This is not about being personal; it is about acting professionally with integrity.   I am happy to talk kanohi ki te kanohi, AGAIN, with Paul Quinn, to explain.

Mātaitai Report – Charlie Bluett
Pahipoto representative, Tūwhakairiora O’Brien, questioned replacements for Kaumātua now deceased – motions should be submitted (at this meeting).
Joe Mason explained the process of Customary Fishing – there has been 3 attempts to get rohe moana.   Next step is to gain a Mātaitai, which, empowers own rules and regulations.
The first application was stymied by other Applicants in the rohe. 
Ngāti Awa has resurrected the kaupapa – just started again.   Aim for new Mātaitai next year.

Hapu Reports
Wharepaia –
Materoa Dodd  - Supports positive feedback of Ngāti Awa Te Toki Festival.
Ngāti Hokopū Wairaka –
Karla Akuhata (fill-in for Dale Hunia) – Issued a written report with 5 resolutions, THAT -
i)     Minutes of TRONA Meetings to be provided to representatives within ten working days of the meeting;
ii)   Representatives are able to distribute minutes to hapu members upon request provided that minutes are clearly labelled as “draft” until ratified at the next meeting;  
iii)   “In committee” Minutes are to remain confidential to Representatives and are not to be distributed;
iv)    Board Meetings are held once a month (other than January)
v)     Representatives are provided with the monitoring reports in a timely and accurate manner as required by the Charter, including:  Full quarterly reports from the Community Development Trust, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Limited, Ngati Awa Asset Holdings Limited, including full disclosure of operations and financial position.
Debate about the value of TRONA summary of meetings, and issuing of DRAFT Minutes, ensued.   Tūwhakairiora O’Brien suported issuing of DRAFT Minutes, as it is draft only until endorsed at the meeting following.   Pouroto Ngaropo stated there was no policy for issuing of DRAFT Minutes, and there needed to be one, for safety reasons.   For operational efficiency there needed to be monthly reports from NAGHL, TRONA and others; however, there was strong argument for and against that the TRONA summary was sufficient; while some were adamant that the bi-monthly cycle was too long for catch-up, and its time factor impact a disadvantage.
Te Hokopū ki Te Hokowhitu-a-Tūmataūenga   
Maanu Paul -  No written report due to non-alignment to hapu hui.   Emphasised increased depth of wotk to understand issues.
Te Patuwai and Ngāti Maumoana  
Puti Williams and Marcia Wahapango
Issued written report.   Issues reported –
-   RENA application to Environment Court;
-   Motiti Island Marae Committee AGM;
-   Te Patuwai Tribal AGM;
-   Te Patuwai Governance;
-   Te Patuwai and Ngāti Maumoana Kapa Haka for Te Toki
-   NAGHL registration of interest
Tūariki – Meri Hepi
No hapu report.
Did not particpate in Ngāti Awa festival.
Supports Ahi Kaa suggestions.
Ngai Tamaoki – Keld Hunia (Regina O’Brien fill-in)
Endorses positive feedback of Ngāti Awa festival and Ahi Kaa suggestions;
Nga Maihi – Regina O’Brien
Good support and progress of hapu gardens, and orchard;
Endorse positive feedback of Ngāti Awa festival.  
Taiwhakaea – Manu Tarau
Ngāti Awa festival positive avenue to reinforce Te Reo.   Tokowhā hui discussed TWWOA issues, and it was good to hear the report from “the horses mouth” (at this hui).   No objections to Ngā Maihi issues.   Important to consider / respect boundaries.
Ngāti Awa ki Tāmaki Mākaurau  -  Hakahaka Hona
Issued written report which discusses –
-   Te Puna o Wairaka Unitec Proposal;
-    Marae Buildings – Kaumatua Flats and Ablution block renovations;
-    Marae Experiences for school groups;
-   $6k Healing wananga reinbursement TWWOA suspended;
-   Te Toki o Ngāti Awa – positive feedback.
Ngāti Awa ki Pōneke – Serenah Nicholson
Business as usual;
Ahi Kaa – Runanga relationship building to strengthen iwi;
TWWOA wānanga for Kapa Haka
Ngai Tamawera – Alf Morrison
Underwriting insurance a high priority;
TRONA – robust “vision” for establishment of Whare Taonga.
Ngāti Hāmua – Miro Araroa
Tautoko i nga mihi mo Ngāti Awa Te Toki;
Tautoko TRONA Monthly hui.
Catering for Otamarākau mandate hui;
Karakia Wānanga -  iriiri, mārena.
Rangihouhiri – Manurere Glen
Good progress on Wharekai hou;
Support bi-monthly hui.   Not many attend monthly hui.
Pahipoto – Tūwhakairiora O’Brien
Application for pūtea for wharekai accepted.
Iramoko – Te Tawera – Pouroto Ngaropo
Has been absent due to cancer treatment; also supporting teina with advanced bone cancer.   Thanked everyone for their support during that recovery time.  
Tawera hapu has its own Administration Office, with conference room, and Whare Taonga – aiming for self-sufficiency.   Three buildings.
8 regional Mataatua contenders for Te Matatini 2015 (to be held at Te Waipounamu) – Pouroto Ngaropo and Turuhira Hare (Nai Tūhoe) were successful.
Ngāti Pūkeko – Joe Mason
Positive feedback of Ngāti Awa festival.
Hui closed 4:10pm – karakia, Manu Tarau.

Whakatauki / Kōrero whakakapi:
Tungia te ururoa; kia tipu whakaritorito te tipu o te harakeke.
(Burn off the under growth to let the new shoots grow strong).

E tika ana ma tēnei whakatauki e whakanako, whakakapi i wēnei whakaaturanga.   Tētahi maumaharatanga ahua reka, i ahau e tipu ake ana, ko te kaha o ngā Kuia ki te rāranga kete, whāriki, harakeke.  He wā anō o te tau e tukuna ai te harakeke ki te whakangā, arā,  i te wa ngahuru me te takurua.   I taua wā e tipu matotoru ai te pakiaka o te harakeke, ā, ki te waihotia kia tipu pēra, he mea tārona i te tipu ora o te harakeke.   Ko taua pakiaka matotoru, ko tēra te ururoa.  I reira, e kiia ai, kua tungia te ururoa, ara, kua tahunatia aua pakiaka ki te ahi – koira te tungi i te ururoa.   Kaore e roa, kua tipu ritorito te harakeke; tae rawa ki te wā koanga, kua pai anō mo te rāranga, mo te rongoa hoki.

I ahau i te hui o TRONA, i te 31 Whiringa-a-Nuku 2014, i kite tonu ahau e tipu whakaritorito ana te tipu o te harakeke.   Hoki atu ana waku maumahara ki ngā wā o mua, e mahia ana wētahi mahi kāore i te pai e wētahi o wa tātau Kai Arahi – he mahi whakaiti, takahi mana.

He pai te kite atu e tū pakari ana ngā tōrangapū, e whai maramatanga ana mo ngā mahi a TRONA.  

Ano hoki, ko te mihi ki te hunga e kaha nei ki te whakatika i ngā ngoikoretanga o mua, arā, te tangata pūkenga nui nei, a Mana Newton, no Deloitte, e akiaki nei i te tipu ora o te harakeke - e whiriā ai ko ngā painga whakanakonako i te ao a wā tātau whakatipuranga hou.          

It is appropriate that this proverb should grace the close of this information sharing.   One of my sweetest childhood memories is of the traditional weaving of flax kits and mats by our Kuia.   They observed seasons when the flax bush rested in Autumn and Winter.   In that rest time the flax roots grew so thick, and if that overgrowth was left to grow out of control it choked the new growth and health of the flax bush.   That overgrowth is the ururoa.   It was at this time (late winter) that the overgrowth was set alight – burnt-off.   It did not take long for new growth to emerge, and in the Spring the flax was, again, ready for weaving and for medicine.

At the TRONA hui on 31st October 2014, I was delighted to see evidence that our flax bush is flourishing.   I reflect on past misdeeds of our leaders – how it compromised and demoralised.

It was pleasing to see the confidence of our hapu representatives striving for transparency, professionalism and efficiency of TRONA practices.

I also pay tribute to those tasked to strengthen weaknesses, in particular, the professional skills of Mana Newton of Deloitte, who is nurturing the healthy growth of the flax bush – weaving an honourable legacy for future generations.

Tihei winiwini, Tihei nakonako; Tihei Mauri ora.          


Rihi Vercoe

Friday, 24 October 2014


I want to sign off from Tu Mai Te Toki today.

It has been a few months since the last post but as many of you know I have taken up a position at the Whakatane Beacon.

For me there is no better time to do this. I will miss Tu Mai Te Toki. It gave me the forum to introduce myself back to Ngati Awa, in a way that was me.

You may not have always agreed with what I have written but I stand by the factual statements I have made in this blog.  And, as always, I encourage you to check it out for yourself.

Go to your marae meetings, go to the runanga meetings, go to every hui you can make because you never know where your skills might be able to be used to help make our people better. Isn’t that all any of us can ask to do?

There is a Te Runanga o Ngati Awa meeting next week and it should be a boomer. Since the last meeting we have seen the official resignation of Sir Wira Gardiner, a scandal involving Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi and the call for three new directors to be appointed to the tribe’s financial arm.

No doubt these will all be on the table for discussion. As a reporter, I have contacted Te Runanga o Ngati Awa to ask whether I can still attend. I tried to meet with the chief executive, Enid Ratahi-Pryor and I had to eventually corner runanga chairman Jo Mason.

He asked if I was Ngati Awa.

“Well then you can come to the meetings.”

That was great news, I hope I can sit in the public gallery as I have always done. I understand the need for confidentiality and would hope that if sensitive matters are going to be discussed that the board members would use the in-committee clause for that issue.

But what is theharm of having me there? What is the harm of sunlight if you are doing your job?

Ngati Awa have achievements that we should be screaming from the roof tops. I hope to be able to write about them for the newspaper but I will not turn a blind eye to the negative even if it means that I have been airing our dirty laundry.

Ngati Awa deserve to know the whole picture and clearly there has been a break-down in the traditional forms of getting iwi news.

I am a journalist who has ethics and a code. I will promise you that I will never sensationalise stories about Maori. I will promise to always present the story as factually as I can without personal opinion or bias.

I promise to be a good reporter. And I promise, always, to be Ngati Awa.
I am off to the Ngati Awa Te Toki festival to help out and celebrate but check me out at the Beacon, there is a pay-wall but I can assure you it will be worth the subscription.

Mauri ora.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Ko Ngāti Awa te toki

The meeting of the board of Te Runanga o Ngati Awa (TRONA) held in Whakatane this month was pegged as being the biggest show in town and it sure did deliver.

After failing to follow due process at the previous meeting the board was being asked to vote again on the removal of Graham Pryor from the tribe’s financial arm and the addition of Paul Quinn to Ngati Awa Group Holdings Ltd (NAGHL).

Prior to the meeting Nga Maihi representative Gina O’Brien had sent notice through the runanga’s chief executive Enid Rātahi-Pryor that her hapu wanted to attend the meeting. She conveyed that the hapu did not agree with the way the runanga had treated one of their members through the lack of process and they wanted to have their say.

Mrs O’Brien requested a speaking time for members of the hapu at the meeting.

And it was fireworks from the start.

At 9am the boardroom at Ngāti Awa house was full to capacity and Nga Maihi had turned up in force.  The room was crackling with tension.

After a slight skirmish around the agenda it was decided that the issue of Mr Pryor’s removal would be discussed at 10am.

It was then decided Mrs Rātahi-Pryor would speak to her chief executive report before the meeting discussed the issue of Mr Pryor. Mrs Rātahi-Pryoy pre-empted it with an explanation that it was an “off-reporting” month for the organisation and therefore her report was only an overview.

She then went on to outline that the board’s request for half of the Māori tax credits from NAGHL had been declined and the ramifications that had for the annual budget. She also made the recommendation that the Runanga should not appeal the commissioner’s decision from the district plan hearings into the 60 Bunyan Road and 77 Bunyan Road area.

She then spoke about the work that is happening with the carvings at Mataatua Marae and ended her report by congratulating Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd, who beat out the Runanga and Putauaki Trust to claim first spot in the Ahuwhenau awards.

The meeting then turned to the issue of Mr Pryor. TRONA chairman Joe Mason explained the previous vote had been rendered invalid because the board did not follow process and they would need to vote again.

Mrs O’Brien then requested time for discussion however Mr Mason said all of the delegates had previously had time to speak to their hapu and that they would go ahead with the vote.

He said there had also been plenty of emails shared between the board, management and others that there was no need to discuss it any further.

“No discussion, we have had enough of that and if we do we may start a war and we have had enough of that.”

Mrs O’Brien made her plea to the chairman, saying: “We have stuck to the process; we have not engaged in the emails or going to the media. We have stuck to making sure we did it the way the process says and we put our request in for our hapu to be here and speak about it.”

Her stance was supported by several members at the table and Mr Mason relented. However he said that only Mrs O’Brien could speak to the motion and no one else.

That was when the Tuteao koroua, Ngamaru Raerino, sitting behind Mrs O’Brien jumped up and addressed the chairman in te reo Māori.

I asked him afterwards to explain what he had said, to ensure that I had understood him properly, and he responded: “I said to them: You use the epigrammatic saying of Ngati Awa te Toki. However today you put a chip in it and if you don't take care I will come back and break it.”

His frustration at not being able to speak was evident.

The koroua then sat down and Mr Mason called for the vote which was received as 12 votes supporting the resolution to remove Mr Pryor and nine votes in opposition.

After the vote, Mr Mason called a recess to the meeting and that was when Mrs O’Brien and Nga Maihi left the meeting.

And I couldn’t help but feel for them.

Later when the meeting reconvened Mr Mason let several other members in the public gallery stand and have their say including one koroua who stood to protect Mr Ngaropo from a letter sent on behalf of Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau from individuals that called on the runanga to reprimand the Te Tawera representative for his recent stance in the newspaper.

However Nga Maihi went away, knowing they had followed process and done all the right things, but did not get their chance to speak.

So it was no real surprise when Sir Hirini Mead got up to give his Te Whakaruruhau report. He said that his job was to advise the board and the chief executive.

He then said he had gone outside to see Nga Maihi, who had been gathered in the carpark.

“And it is the first time in my memory that a hapu has threatened to pull away from the Runanga… And I must say that we must be very careful about how we treat ourselves. Part of the threat was if they pull out they want their share of the settlement and the answer to that is that if you pull out then go but you will go with nothing.”

Then later still, when the board were asked to vote on whether to instil Mr Quinn as a director of NAGHL until the end of the year, Pahipoto representative Tuwhakairiora (Conn) O’Brien asked him about his role at Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau.

Mr Quinn replied that he was the chief executive of Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau.

Mr O’Brien asked whether that was a conflict of interest however Mr Quinn replied that he had enough sense to avoid being part of discussions when there was going to be a conflict of interest.

Now this has bearing on the whole Nga Maihi situation. Mr Pryor was not removed because he had done anything wrong but because he was the chairman of Ngati Rangitihi, an iwi opposing Ngati Awa’s claim in Matāta.

As far as I know it Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau also dispute Ngati Awa’s claim in Kawerau and perhaps that is why we do not have any interest in the geothermal area even though Putauaki is our cultural mountain.

Now, today is another day and people have had some time to digest what has happened but I ask that when you read this you take the time out to really think about it. The threat that Nga Maihi may pull out of the collective is concerning and has wide implications.

Most at the Runanga seem to think that Mr Mason will go out to Tuteao and make amends but I am concerned about affects that this situation will have on us as an iwi.

I am proud Ngati Awa and so I hope Mr Mason will be able to smooth the waters and convince Nga Maihi to stay part of the collective but the issue is bigger than that.

Now is the time for our leaders to step up because games are being played where there are no rules and the stakes are way too high.

Meanwhile, Mr Ngaropo has raised his displeasure about the existence of this blog at several meetings including yesterday’s board meeting. I haven’t been able to respond to Mr Ngaropo in these meetings however if you agree with him then please let me know by leaving a comment. But if you don’t agree with him and you appreciate the job it takes to bring you this information then please take this post and share it wide.
Tu mai te toki, hara mai te toki, haumi e, hui e, tāiki e!

Friday, 30 May 2014

And the knives came out

It was all on yesterday as the knives came out at the Te Runanga o Ngati Awa (TRONA) board meeting.

After sending an email to the chairman of the tribe’s financial arm and copying in his fellow board members, Pouroto Ngaropo was out for blood and his first move was to ask for the formal resignation of Sir Wira Gardiner.

The former civil servant had tended his resignation at the previous meeting of the TRONA board and decreed that Graham Pryor would take over from him as the chairman of Ngati Awa Group Holdings (NAGHL).

Normally, any movements on NAGHL would be done at the company’s annual general meeting at the end of the year but Mr Ngaropo said he wanted the TRONA board to pass a resolution that it “formerly accepts Sir Wira’s resignation today”.

It was then that it was raised that Sir Wira had sent an email to the TRONA chairman, Joe Mason, saying he would formerly stand down on June 30. The email also asked the TRONA board to consider appointing Ngai Tamapare representative Paul Quinn to replace him as a director.

The email had been sent the night before and Mr Ngaropo opposed the introduction of the email because it had not been included in the board papers, however Mr Mason said that it was relevant to the discussion and shared it with the board.

Mr Mason then asked them to vote on whether they would accept Mr Quinn’s appointment as an interim NAGHL director.

The move was seconded by Ngāti Hokopū ki Hokowhitū representative Maanu Paul. Ngāti Hokopū ki Wairaka delegate Dayle Hunia objected to the lack of process and suggested the director position be advertised with the outlook of an appointment being made at the next meeting.

Chief executive Enid Ratahi-Pryour said the appointment would be only for the interim because the position would be up for rotation at the tribe’s annual general meeting and Mr Quinn would only be filling in for five months.

Mr Quinn has made no secret that he has wants to be a director of the financial arm and he took the position with eight board members voting in favour of him replacing Sir Wira, five against and Aubrey Kohunui from Warahoe choosing to abstain.

Mr Ngaropo then went for the jugular and called for the removal of Mr Pryor as a NAGHL director. He said he could not support Sir Wira’s assertion that Mr Pryor would take over as chair of the financial arm.

“I believe that Graham Pryor has a conflict of interest. I have strong opposition to Graham Pryor standing a chairman (of NAGHL) or any committee for that matter.”

Cast you minds back to March when it was outlined that Mr Pryor had approved a $3.8 million contract with a carbon management company that he was a member of without gaining the NAGHL board’s approval first.

The report revealed that, crucially, Mr Pryor had not passed on legal advice to the other NAGHL directors that warned against the contract despite it being addressed to the board of the financial arm.

Sir Wira posthumously rubberstamped it and so the deal was pushed through. That was when a long-serving member of the Ngati Awa Farm committee, Jim Davies, approached The Whakatane Beacon about his concerns.

Eventually Mr Davies was forced to resign and Sir Wira attended a TRONA board meeting to smooth the situation with the previous board submitting to his aggressive assertions that neither he nor Mr Pryor had done anything wrong.

Now apply to that to Mr Pryor’s removal yesterday and consider this: Mr Pryor was not removed because he had failed to pass on crucial advice or because he had personally benefitted from a deal between NAGHL and a company that he had been a director of but because he is also the chairman of Ngati Rangitihi, a group that is opposing Ngati Awa’s claim to a Matata urupa and other tribal boundaries.

A resolution was made by Mr Ngaropo and seconded by Mr Paul to remove Mr Pryor as a director of NAGHL.

The vote was undertaken by secret ballot with two independent people counting the ballots. Mr Mason refused to announce the numbers in favour and against because he believed that was part of the method of a secret ballot vote and simply said that the resolution to remove Mr Pryor from NAGHL had been successful.

While there is some sense in removing Mr Pryor because it could be difficult for him to remain objective while he was also the chairman of Ngati Rangitihi, there is a question of creating an unfair precedent and also the lack of due process.

Mate Heitia, who was standing in for Te Kei Merito to represent Ngāti Rangataua, raised her concerns about the precendent it would set by excluding a whanau because of their ties to another iwi.

Mrs Hunia, again, warned about the lack of due process and highlighted a section of the NAGHL constitution that required the TRONA board to advise that they intended to vote on the future of a director at the meeting before it took place.

Māori Land Court judge Layne Harvey, who happened to be in the gallery, stood and claimed that the NAGHL constitution allowed for a director to be removed at any stage. He had to reclaim his assertion when Mrs Hunia presented him with the constitution.

Mrs Ratahi-Pryor said she had sought legal advice about removing a director. She said the runanga’s lawyer believed TRONA could vote remove Mr Pryor and that two members of the board had to sign the notification.

While, personally, I do not oppose the removal of Mr Pryor the fact that the board are still not following process concerns me. There is a thin line between believing you are doing the right thing and, then, just making up the rules.

Yesterday, there was robust debate around important areas but it will be tarnished if the board cannot follow the rules that have been laid out.

It is obvious that there has been a call for change from the people but what is the point of making the changes if everything just stays the same? The key is acting in a way that shows integrity and respect – there is nothing respectful in not respecting the rules that have been set.

It has been awhile since my last post to Tu Mai Te Toki as I have not attended the previous two meetings. I have considered writing other posts before now however I have been reluctant because without observing firsthand I am left to rely on other people for information.

This always poses two problems: firstly, I must ask people for the information. Often this proves difficult because even though I am an uri of Ngāti Awa and therefore, I believe, entitled to it there is always the concern that those people will be held responsible if they give me the information.

And the threat has already been made by the management of TRONA if this happens.

This obviously places the representatives of my own hāpu in precarious situations so I choose not to put them in uncomfortable positions by not asking. Also, I do not want to make my own hāpu feel as though they cannot talk openly at our marae meetings and I have chosen not to use information that is discussed in this forum.

Secondly, I am reliant on those people giving me a fair and balanced view of what happened and this is not always the case. We all have our interpretations and beliefs and these can often colour our recall.

I have asked management on several occassions for information and more often than not I have been ignored. The chief executive of TRONA has also taken the extraordinary step of not allowing those sitting in the public gallery to have a copy of the agenda.

She has used my absence in previous meetings to villify myself and this blog. It is not the first time that criticisms have been made but I am still resolute in my belief that, in the interest of accountability and transparency, the people of Ngāti Awa deserve to know what is going on with our Runanga.

And so I will keep writing this blog in my way and therefore I have made the choice to write about things when I either witness them myself or I have documentation that can back up what I am saying.

Yesterday’s meeting was a full one and so as I leave you to digest the news that Mr Pryor has been removed from NAGHL, I will pen another post about the review of TRONA’s commitees that has been conducted over the past couple of months.

Ma te wa.

Monday, 3 March 2014

We take care of our own

The first meeting of the new Te Runanga o Ngati Awa (TRONA) board kicked off last week and it was show-stopping fireworks from the get go.

With all of the phone calls, emails and lobbying done – the meeting started with the issue of electing a chairperson and the deputy to lead the board.

In preparation Runanga chief executive Enid Ratahi-Pryor said she had sought legal advice around the election of the chairman because there was no clear process.
Mrs Ratahi-Pryor highlighted three sections of the organisation’s charter including 4.1, 4.2 and 5.1. She said the board could choose between two methods of voting – either by show of hands or secret ballot and that there was the option to close the meeting if it got too unruly.

“As we go through this and we are looking for guidance in this we will do it by majority.”
Even though the sections highlighted by Mrs Ratahi-Pryor did not correspond with the charter  because she was quoting from the second schedule, the board continued and elected to use the secret ballot method.

In the end, Ngati Pukeko representative Joe Mason edged out the incumbent chairman, Te Kei Merito from Ngati Rangataua, 11 votes to 10. Te Tawera representative Pouroto Ngaropo retained the deputy spot with 13 votes against 7 votes for Materoa Dodd from Ngati Wharepaia
Obviously there was a lot of interest in the vote with a large number of observers in the board room at the TRONA office in Louvain Street and a post on Facebook announcing the result before the meeting was even over.

However I was saddened that there was more emphasis placed on the vote rather than on the actual business.

A request from the Ngati Awa Training Organisation (NATO), a private training establishment, for financial support from the Runanga was almost glossed over despite the operating trust owing at least $600,000 to two parties.

The situation was raised by chief executive during her report to the board.
Mrs Ratahi-Pryor said she had met with NATO because it was in financial trouble and the ASB bank was threatening to foreclose on the organisation.

 “As a result of contract losses the trust as lost its capacity and capability to get out of this situation. A debt of $50,000 is outstanding with the ASB Bank. The trust is not able to clear this debt, nor is it able to trade out of debt due to expenses exceeding its income…. A cash injection to maintain a Ngati Awa training provider and its status would require $600,000 in addition to a restructure of its governance and management.”  
It is understood the ASB Bank has requested payment of $50,000 to cover the outstanding debt or it will foreclose on the organisation and more than $500,000 is owed to the Inland Revenue Department in unpaid taxes.

Mrs Ratahi-Pryor said the NATO trustees had all “scarpered” and that even though the Runanga did not own the organisation anymore, it was up to it to protect the Ngati Awa name.
“The reason it has come to the board is this was one of the organisations set up by the Runanga. They are seen as Ngati Awa. I had a look at their young people and their young people who go there are 80 to 90 per cent Ngati Awa. Their staff are Ngati Awa. This is a Ngati Awa entity so we have to take that into consideration.”

In her report Mrs Ratahi-Pryor recommended that management work alongside the trust close down operation, the board approve $50,000 to be paid to the bank on behalf of NATO and the Runanga to take back control of the organisation as well as its delivery status once all trustees have been removed and programmes closed.
It was also recommended that the board note that this is the second time the Runanga has assisted the trust.

The board voted to close down the organisation and approach the bank about writing off the debt even though Ngai Tamapare representative Paul Quinn had objected saying he felt as though there wasn’t enough information to make a decision.
It was not outlined how or why the debt was incurred nor was the outstanding debt with IRD discussed.

Mr Quinn and Dayle Hunia, who represents Ngati Hokopu ki Wairaka, were the only members that voted against the motion.

I support Mr Quinn’s stance and think the NATO situation should have been a separate report in itself and would have expected representatives to request more information before committing to a decision.                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Additionally the Hapu Report section, which is the time at the end of the meeting where the representatives  can usually discuss the issues that are affecting their hapu, had been removed from the agenda.

“The previous chairman [Te Kei Merito] requested that no hapu reports be given. I don’t know why that is,” said Mrs Ratahi-Pryor     .
I was tremendously disappointed by this.

Frustrated by a lack of control over our own destiny we, at Ngati Hokopu ki Wairaka, have spent the last year designing a strategic vision. Aimed at protecting and enhancing the well-being of the hapu the vision has been set and has been encapsulated by the saying: Tu Mai Ngati Hokopu. But this is only the beginning of our journey and we are keen to make a move on the next stage
However in order to do some of the work set out in the vision we need support letters from the Runanga and it was hoped that we would be able to make a presentation during Hapu Report time at  the board meeting.      
And I am sure we are not the only hapu who wanted time to discuss our take. Maanu Paul from Ngati Hokopu ki Hokowhitu and Nga Maihi’s Gina O’brien handed in written reports, requesting they be added to the record because the Hapu Report time had been erased.                                          

So despite an overwhelming change to the board with 11 changes, I am left to think that the Runanga is still operating much how it always has.
However, while the unpopular bimonthly meeting policy still stands another meeting has been set for next month because the board did not have time to elect the committees and I am hopeful that the new members will begin to show their teeth.