Mr Vercoe was replaced on the committee by new board member Brian Tunui. The committee is also comprised of board members Regina O’Brien (Gina) and Charlie Elliott, two representatives from accountant firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers and independent member Peter Taylor.
Speaking at the board meeting in April, Te Pahipoto representative Mr Elliott was adamant that Mr Vercoe was forced to stand down at the end of last year.
Mr Elliott said he and Mrs O’Brien had gone to see Mr Vercoe after hearing through the grape-vine that the long-serving governor had been removed from the committee.
Mrs O’Brien verified Mr Elliott’s account of the conversation with Mr Vercoe, however there was no further discussion this issue by the board.
The issue of Mr Vercoe’s absence was first raised by Te Runanga o Ngati Awa chief executive Enid Ratahi-Pryor at the meeting with Ngati Hokopu at Wairaka in March.
Mrs Ratahi-Pryor said Mr Vercoe stood down voluntarily because he was getting old and tired.
“He decided it is time for a change. It is time for new blood.”
After that meeting I decided to check out Mrs Ratahi-Pryor’s statements and I came away with the same story as Mr Elliott and Mrs O'Brien.
I sat with him for four hours in the kitchen of his Wairaka home and I was entertained with a series of stories and anecdotes.
But also during that conversation he confirmed that he had been pushed out of his seat at the head of the audit committee by chairman of the tribe’s commercial arm, Ngati Awa Group Holdings Ltd (NAGHL).
He was obviously disappointed.
And yes, Mr Vercoe is getting old and perhaps his advanced years mean that his mind is not as sharp as it was but he still has experience and knowledge.
Coincidentally, however, Mr Vercoe was the person who signed off the controversial audit committee that highlighted Mr Gardiner’s role in the conflict of interest surrounding NAGHL board member Graham Pryor.
The committees are important tools in the operations of Te Runanga o Ngati Awa and at the end of the day the organisation was created to manage our assets. Therefore I would like to know that the responsibility has been entrusted to the people who have the right skills and motivations to do the jobs.
Meanwhile, speaking of jobs I wanted to share some news. On the back of this blog I am currently in talks with the editor of the Whakatane Beacon, Mark Longley, about becoming a regular contributor to the newspaper.
My proposal was that I could be a weekly contributor who writes about local issues as a trained journalist and from a Maori point of view.
Mr Longley has been reading this blog and said he would be very interested in a regular column.
We spoke of broadening the focus of Tu Mai Te Toki.
And while Ngati Awa politics will at times be the subject of the column, neither of us want it be contained to such a narrow purpose. Nor do I want the column, and the blog, to always be negative.
He has gone away to crunch the numbers and asked to see a draft column so he could see how I write.
Therefore, I wanted to show Mr Longley, and you, that I could write about another issue.
They believe the dioxins could be spread if the resource consent is granted and they want to leave the clean-up until further research has been done.
Listening to their points it seems there is an element of "not in my back-yard" and I reckon they have missed the point.
There are at least 36 sites in Whakatane, more across the country, and the Regional Council is using the project to trial the process with the hope that it could be used to clean up the other spots.
And it has its results.