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Thursday, 4 April 2013

Bad things happen when good people do nothing.

A controversial report is calling for the structure of Te Runanga o Ngati Awa (TRONA) to be reviewed.
The suggestion was noted in a report from the audit committee but was overshadowed by the revelation that there had been a serious issue around a conflict of interest. The report stated that a director of the runanga’s financial arm, Ngati Awa Gro up Holdings Ltd (NAGHL), had faciliatated a business deal with a company where he was also a director.

Written as a result of an audit into the organisation’s financial accounts by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the report was signed off by the then-chairman of the runanga’s Audit committee, Waaka Vercoe.
Today, in a bid to add context, I propose to discuss the structure of the runanga. It was outlined by the runanga chief executive Enid Ratahi-Pryor at the meeting with Ngati Hokopu at Wairaka last month and I believe that to have a better understanding of some of the things that are going on in the runanga we must discuss it here.

At the head of the organization is the TRONA board with 22-members elected by the hapu of Ngati Awa. A chairman is selected to represent the board and in this case this is Te Kei Merito from Poroporo.
Mrs Ratahi-Pryor said she works very closely to Mr Merito.

“Your link is through the board. (Chairman) Te Kei Merito is my boss. I actually link directly to Te Kei. Initially I didn’t have a link to the hapu but im going to change that.”
To the side is the financial arm of the runanga, NAGHL, which is charged with managing the financial assets of the tribe and “creating wealth”.

Every year NAGHL give TRONA a $1.5 million dividend to help develop social initiatives such as education grants and iwi development.
NAGHL is governed by a board of five directors including Jo Mason, Waaka Vercoe, Graham Pryor, Brian Tunui. Former civil servant Wira Gardiner chairs the board.

According to Mrs Ratahi-Pryor beneath these two structures are several boards.
The executive committee made up by Mr Merito and board members Pouroto Ngaropo and Materoa Dodd.

Remuneration is Mr Merito and Mr Ngaropo along with the chief executive and board member Regina O’Brien.
The group charged with the organisation’s investments is new NAGHL director Brian Tunui and the man who helped facilitate the deal with CO2 New Zealand Management company, Graham Pryor. Civil servant Kay Read was recently appointed to the investment committee as the third member.

Mrs Ratahi-Pryor said Mrs Read’s appointment was in the interest of succession-planning but did not expand on how the selection was made.
And finally the Audit Committee which is made up by board representatives Charlie Elliot and Mrs O’Brien, two representatives from PWC and independent member Peter Taylor. The committee was chaired by Waaka Vercoe, however he was recently replaced by Mr Tunui.

Mrs Ratahi-Pryor said this was because Mr Vercoe was old and getting tired.
“He decided it is time for a change. It is time for new blood.”

Mrs Ratahi-Pryor, herself, is the chief executive of TRONA and NAGHL. The two roles were amalgamated under previous chief executive, Tiaki Hunia, who held the position for three months before he quit and Mrs Ratahi-Pryor was appointed.
And while many of the “bad” investments were made under another chief executive Jeremy Gardiner we must remember that before she took on her current role Mrs Ratahi-Pryor was a TRONA board member and a NAGHL director.

According to other board members Mrs Ratahi-Pryor was an active member of the board and the minutes of previous meeting shows she was often vocal in meetings.
With this in mind, shifting the blame for poor decisions is simply not feasible. Sure most of the bad investments were made under the previous chief executives particularly Mr Gardiner jnr but Mrs Ratahi-Pryor was part of the decision-making team and surely she must accept responsibility for this as much as anyone else?

Whether she was incompetent or ignorant it simply does not matter because as philosopher Edmund Burke said: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’.
And that is why I started this blog.

It wasn’t to personally attack anyone. I do not have any personal agenda and I will not share my opinions about personal lives unless it affects the operations of the tribe.
But I will no longer sit back and do nothing about what I think is a very serious situation. As I have said before, I believe my role is to provide as much information as I can so that you can make your own informed decisions.

Elections for the TRONA board are this year and we have an opportunity to let our leaders know what we think.
And while I am delighted that many of you have chosen to share your opinions and thoughts I am disappointed that some of the comments have taken to slandering others without much proof. While some of the statements are probably true, the anonymous nature of the poster makes it unfair on those who are being targeted.

Many of you have noticed that I have chosen to use my real name, I have not hidden behind a pseudonym or remained anonymous, and as part of that I must be confident that the information I choose to share on here is correct and that I can back it up if I need to.
And I am confident that every statement of fact that I have made on this blog can be backed up with documents or through other people’s evidence.

So whanau, continue to share your thoughts but please ensure that you maintain a healthy respect for each other.
Heoi ano, next week I am hoping to confirm the story behind the change in the people on the audit committee.

Ma te wa.


  1. wow this is soooooo interesting. i would like to say that our people deserve to know this information as it is our right as an Iwi and not a privilage.

  2. Glad you made a point of asking people to stick to the kaupapa Karla, because if they had carried on like that it will have defeated the purpose of this blog and its my understanding it was set up to empower. Also I would have lost all interest and respect for it. I see this blogg as an informative tool. That is all.

  3. Tēnā koe, e Karla

    My name is Adele and I was appointed to the Rūnanga in January. I am Tūhourangi, Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāti Awa, Whakatohea and Tūwharetoa ki Kawerau. I have a sister who is currently the Rūnanga board member for Ngā Maihi.

    You try to portray yourself as balanced and well-motivated. The Grant Awards Ceremony at Iramoko Marae could have benefited from your balanced and well-motivated approach to informing those hapū members not in attendance. If you had attended this event you would have witnessed the positive aspects of Ngāti Awatanga; the celebration of the achievements of other hapū; the celebration of rangatahi; the celebration of lives being lived rather than a life lost. It was a happy day.

    But no, you quote a dead white guy in Edmund Burke as justification for your ongoing prosecution of the big bad Rūnanga. But rather than a vehicle to bring the Rūnanga to account this blog has instead morphed into a pustule of discontent. Hapū against hapū, whanau against whanau, professional and personal lives ridiculed and demeaned - all under the banner of accountability.

    In terms of Accountability, as publisher; you are accountable for the pus that oozes from this blog – some of it verging on defamatory. To attempt to distance yourself from some of the comments made is simply ‘shifting the blame.’

    The hapū board members that are feeding you with their minutes and documents have accountability to their hapū; to other hapū board members; to the Charter (the document that drives Ngāti Awa ethical behaviour and agreed to by hapū), to the staff, and to the Rūnanga overall. The hapū board members that are anonymously attacking the Rūnanga via this blog are accountable similarly.

    Its good Pākehā journalistic skills to focus on fuck-ups by Māori but why should we share in that particular passion. Also encouraging the demise of our ethics as Māori is hardly aspirational journalism.

    The opportunity to debate what is appropriate governance and what is a Ngāti Awa commercial and business model, and have that opinion come from the broad strength and spectrum of hapū members is where the real news is at. The ocean to cross in this present day is in implementing a governance and business model that generates abundance without exploitation of the natural resources or of each other.

    From where I sit our leadership training begins on Marae and it appears that we generally choose our hapū delegates based on their capacity to sustain Marae and feed manuhiri. It makes complete sense to me that if you cannot keep a Marae functioning so that it offers manaaki to whomever crosses its portals than whatever leadership aspirations you have will not be centred in Te Ao Māori, or more correctly, Te Ao Ngāti Awa.

    I sincerely hope that this new crop of hapū delegates due to arrive in the next elections are worth their weight in spuds, and are just not wannabees. To paraphrase Hone Harawira paraphrasing someone else: “Our leadership is determined by its followers. A leader with no one following - is merely a person on a walk.”

    1. Nga mihi kia koe Adele

    2. Good on you Adele. Shame you're not our delegate for Nga Maihi instead of that wannabe accounts clerk sister of yours who thinks she is clued up enough to be on NAGHL. She like all of these other lot has been jealous of Enid for years. Enid succeeds where they wouldn't even get past the door. Ask yourself how much have Enid's critics done for their own marae let alone the iwi. Because they are motivated by jealousy and hang ups they never actually succeed in anything they do. They are one dimensional motivated by negativity and jealousy. Just go to the meetings people and see how much time is wasted by these people on pursuing their petty jealousies. The last Runanga meeting was such a total joke. To think we are actually paying for this incompetence?

    3. Hone would know.

      As for Graham Pryor clause 21.2 of the Ngati Awa Charter says directors cannot bring Ngati Awa into disrepute. Well, obviously he has breached that. If he was not guilty then why has he not challenged these statements? Why did he run headfirst out of the AGM when these issues were getting raised?

      So are you board members going to demand he resign and remove him if he doesn't for bringing the Runanga into disrepute? Ngati Awa, we don't need people like him who clearly lack even basic integrity. He either lied to Wira and the NAGHL board about concealing the legal advice and telling Wira the NAGHL board had approved the contract or he was incompetent. Either way he has to go. Murray Haines as well. How could he authorise transfer of over $1 million without a copy of the NAGHL board minute approving the contract? Incompetence or collusion. Either way he has to go.

  4. Don't pay attention to any of this Karla. You keep going. The iwi need to know what is going on so we can make decisions come election time. In my opinion every single one of your posts has been well balanced and written in a style that us people at the bottom can understand.

    This only leaves the question of whether it is factual. The scale of wrongdoings you have reported had me thinking "this can't be true, I would have heard about it by now" so I have waited for someone from TRONA or NAGHL or even anyone on here to dispute your facts. In the sea of excuses, accusations and personal attacks I have seen in the comments, I haven't seen one challenge to your facts. This tells your facts are true and correct.

    Now we get a formal response from TRONA from 'Adele from Tuhourangi' who trys to discredit your good work. Adele is blaming you for 'shifting the blame' in regard to you quite rightfully trying to encourage people not to be so childish and stick to the kaupapa.

    I would say that this new employee at the runanga is feeling the heat at the moment as your blog is a hit and is causing much discussion about the state of the runanga. Why else would she try to blame you for something you have no control over?

    It is true that your blog has inspired many personal attacks and defamatory comments and this is truly sad. But it is not your fault that people want to take it that low. The only true way to be impartial is to let all comments through and I admire your stand on this. Keep it up. From one Ngāti Awa wahine to another - kia kaha te tuahine kia pakari tonu koe ki tenei mahi!

    Take no notice of Adele for she has not only shown her ignorance already by her interesting choice of words but she also makes me wonder about the standards of the post-restructure TRONA operation. It disgusts me to think a senior employee of the runanga would use words like "f**k ups" in the public forum. It is disgraceful language and oh so very, very common.

    I would expect Enid to hold Adele accountable for this little tantrum as it brings the whole organization into disrepute. Whatever is said about Enid, she always conducts herself with grace and good manners in the public domain. I'd hope she expects the same from Adele.

    1. Tēnā Koutou

      I have been formally censured by the Chief Executive for my inappropriate behaviour and language as a result of responding to this blog in the manner that I have done. I therefore apologise for my language and comments that I made.

      It is not appropriate for either staff or management to be commenting on this blog. I was compelled to do so because good people and unfortunately their families are being unfairly slandered and because of their professional constraints are unable to respond in this environment. I should have practiced that same level of constraint. Again my apologies.

      Nāku nā


    2. Kia ora Karla, kia ora koutou katoa,

      It is interesting to see how fast the CEO has reacted to Adele's spiel from Tuhourangi. The CEO is known not to 'F#$% AROUND', with big mouth employees.....

      I too agree with the cuzzie don't take any notice of Adele. Her comments about quoting the dead is feeble, we do it all the time, we quote Sir Apirana Ngata and his moteatea, Einstein, Karl Marx, and of course our own tipuna Wairaka. Her famous quote is used everywhere and by everyone. Majority of the time marae outside of Ngati Awa acknowledge Ngati Awa people by reeling off Wairaka's famous quote "Kia whakatane au i ahau"

      In order to protect and move progressively into the future we must look at the past and present. Any academic scholar knows that!

  5. Too late. You've shown what kind of person you are. Ill mannered wahanui with no brains. You only been there 5 mins and you have already made a monumental "f**k up"(to borrow from your dictionary) that has resulted in you being forced to offer an immediate public apology. Good on Enid for pulling your bloody head in but a forced apology is about as good as the sacks of spuds you want the board to be.

    Kia kaha Karla.

    Ka pai Enid.

    Shame on you, Adele. Pick your game up amateur.

    1. Anonymous, type writting warrior...

    2. "Formally censured", chur kare!! flash words for a not so flash wahine eh. You lost your self control, let your waha run wild and then have the audacity to return and offer an "apology", because you have been directed to do so, by the head dictator.Your apology has no substance, much like your earlier rant. I urge you to watch, listen and learn here Adele, "we the people" want to know in true depth what is happening within our iwi and without this forum, so many of us would still be walking in the dark. Karla, all you need to do girl is keep the information coming, it is true that no one has challenged the information written in this blog( well no credible challenges that is) and that confirms for me, that you are indeed an incredible, credible journalist.

    3. Enid: What the F&&k happened?
      Adele:Sorry boss, but that Karla chick is springing us to the people
      Enid:I know, I know!! but you just threw us all under the bus biatch, now everyone knows we have something to hide. Get back in there and suck up to those morons and for f&&k's sake don't tell them that's what we call them.
      Adele: ooorrrr but I'm not sorry, we need to make sure we keep everyone in the dark
      Enid: I know but it will make me look good if you go and apologise and it will give me time to prepare some more bullshit statements just in case I need to respond.

    4. Hurry up and get your moko kauae. We need a good laugh.

    5. It must be so frustrating seeing someone successful finally in charge. What a shame that people like you will never do anything. All you can do is try and be sarcastic. Good on you if it's therapy for you. You will not change anything.

    6. Hahaha this one sounds like Enid wrote it herself. ^^^^^^

      The pressure is mounting on our fake "leaders" like Enid.

      When will Enid stop swinging the axe on her employees and turn her attention to swinging the axe on those who are shaming our iwi on the front page of the Beacon. It is easy to bully employees, sack them for nothing and crush their careers but Enid - do you think you can find the courage somewhere in all of your ampleness to challenge the skullduggery of Sir Wira and your close husband's whanaunga Graham?

      Just as I thought.......about as much backbone as a snake......

    7. Get that moko done soon e kare, you need it.

      The only thing mounting is your total frustration. Ka arhoa hoki ki a koe. Try and change something if you can. You know you will fail and that is what frsutrates you the most.

      If you knew anything (which you obviously don't)you would know Joe's whanau can't stand Graham and co and vice versa.

      Remember that RUNANGA voted for the staffing and budget cuts including YOU. So playing the I support the poor workers card is just being dishonest. The RUNANGA told Jeremy and Tiaki then Murray to reduce staff and the budget deficit. Got it? The RUNANGA. So if you have a problem go and tell you delegate who voted for the cuts.

  6. I wondered when Enid’s 2nd in charge was going to enter the stage, and what an entrance it was. It has been well documented from the previous bloggers on what a total failure Adele’s attempt to discredit Karla’s blog was. Obviously it has struck a cord with the runanga not only because of this reply but also the fact they read the blogs and there has been no official reply from the leadership. To phrase Adele’s words for leadership- “leadership training starts on the Marae”. It begs the questions which Marae was she brought up on with a hennas reply to Karla’s blog and also when can we expect a reply from these so called leaders.
    Currently I find these blogs a window into reality at our Runanga and unfortunately it has been smudged with no clarity or transparency into what they are trying to achieve. After Wednesday’s beacon release (of which Karla’s blog titled “Taking back the Power” discussed in depth) I would think that the waka is sinking and it will be every person for them-self.
    I understand that you cannot believe all that is written in newspapers and blogs but it is clear as day to me the link between the beacon and Karla’s blog the relevance in truth to the korero. I commend Enid in reprimanding her 2IC but with the latest information published and other events that are yet to unfold, it will really test the true leaders of Ngati Awa.
    I applaud what my whanaunga has done with this blog, not only does it allow us as a iwi to be informed from ‘nga hau e wha’ but also a vehicle in which we can reply our constructive thoughts and views.

    1. This blog started as a follow on from the Erakablog on Waikato affairs. If that blog is the forerunner and prototype that would be a shame. Far from promoting positive change within Waikato it has been a small part of the leadership response over there to move to reduce their Kauhanganui to complete impotence. Morgan and his supporters are persuading Mr Paki their king to move to have their Runanga restructured into oblivion. Whether they succeed is another matter. But if their blog is an example then it appears to be achieving the opposite of what it set out to do. I also notice from the number of comments it receives, like this one, that the majority of the iwi remain completely disinterested and unengaged.

    2. Good point. One of those from Waikato advocating change had this to say about how they operate now:

      "Probably half of the people in Te Kauhanganui have no idea what they are doing. Another 25 per cent appear to be in an alternate universe and the remaining 25 per cent have to try to make it work. Its a joke, and it speaks volumes that not long after it was established a new system had to be implemented that required members to sign twice in order to qualify for their payment – once on arrival and again in the afternoon. Why? Because members were turning up, signing their names, staying for the ‘free’ lunch and then shooting the gap – sometimes leaving the House without a quorum to continue its business. Anyone who has attended a Te Kauhanganui meeting is witness to a circus – complete with clowns – with members yelling and screaming, abusing each other, speaking on issues completely unrelated to the business at hand, refusing to sit down and then voting to hold another meeting because they’ve wasted so much time arguing about trivialities… It is a farce – and this is what you want to continue??"

      Having attended Runanga and iwi meetings under both the current and previous chairperson the difference is quite obvious. Some of the Waikato comments could also apply to Ngati Awa especially about the quality of board members. You should go and watch them. Half of them do not know what they are doing. If you don't believe me try and test them on the accounts. They have no idea most of them. Worse, there are two or three who THINK they know then hold up the whole hui trying to look intelligent. Just look at them, their personal roles and backgrounds then you get some idea about how incompetent the Runanga can be. Most of them can't add. If they could then we wouldn't have had the $900,000 budget blow out or the $1 million+ poured down the Gonet toilet. THen soon after Graham Pryor stuffs up another huge pile of our money. At least Jeremy and Tiaki knew when to get out - once the money was lost. But Graham is STILL there. If he had any decency he would resign himself. And now we see he's been mucking things up in Rangitihi as well, surprise surprise. Come on board members, do your job and sack him tomorrow.

      IF you go to some of the previous hui in the last year or so you will see that with 50% not knowing anything or having a clue another quarter are either living in a dream or an unreality while the remaining 25% try to make it work and get things done.

      We never had all of these dramas when we had nothing. But the problem is that there are no real criteria of qualifications for being a board member. Most have never even handled $100,000 in their lives let alone $100 million. People we get what we vote for, plain and simple. Until the quality of board members changes, these problems won't really change.

      The funniest are the ones who think they know what they're doing. At the least the ones who really don't know much have the sense to keep quiet.

      Good to see Joe Mason getting recognised at the graduation.

  7. Kia ora Karla, I would just like to applaud you for your mahi. You may have just opened Pandora's Box. Rightly so, as now we are in the times where skullduggery will be revealed. Kia kaha Karla. Nga Mihi.

  8. Given the explosive nature of these CO2 dealings between a NAGHL director and NAGHL published on this blog, the newspaper & television regarding CO2 contracts, deals and financial write offs, what will the Runanga reps do? The Runanga represents us as the shareholders in NAGHL - those are ours and the next generations assets and resources.
    The Runanga could call for NAGHL directors & staff resignations, develop a plan to recover losses, undertake a review of processes, or do nothing.
    What should we be asking our reps to do?

  9. I'm not sure what we should be asking them to do but we should be supporting our Board by attending the Runanga meeting to be held tomorrow (Friday 26 April at 9am) at the Mataatua Wharenui. Runanga meetings have always been open and its an opportunity to hear the full story and to see what decisions will be made on this CO2 matter. Get the info from the source

    1. Board members appoint NAGHL directors like Graham, not management. Board members give him the sack for bringing the Runanga in to disrepute. It's your duty to do so. Listen to Michael Jordan - Just do it!

  10. Ahahahahaha, another joke of a hui! Did you see them whanau? Did you see them?! So much for the big brave board members. So much for the big brave blog writers. So much for change and accountability. So Graham Pryor is STILL there. We get everything we deserve whanau. Everything. All of your blogging and bleating has counted so far for nothing. As it was always going to be.

    1. Rome wasn't built in a day Kare, taiho taiho!!!