Sunday, 2 February 2014

"When you blame others, you give up your power to change"

This is the first post to Tu Mai te Toki for 2014.

I have waited until the first official meeting of the new Te Runanga o Ngati Awa (Trona) board before writing any blog post.

As always my need to remain objective must outweigh the desire to share information and so I wanted to wait until I had something concrete that I could write about.
Today, I want to share with you my experience when I attended the workshop that was held by Runanga management for board members last week.

The workshop was held on Friday at the TRONA building on Louvain Street in Whakatane.
Chief executive Enid Ratahi-Pryor had previously extended an open invitation for all Ngati Awa uri to attend the workshop at last year’s Annual General Meeting and I so decided to take up the offer.

On my way through the runanga, I stopped at the desk to make sure that I could attend the workshop. Two staff members assured me that it was fine and left me to find my way to the board room.
When I entered the room Te Tawera representative Pouroto Ngaropo was talking about the signing of the settlement deed that happened in 1994 at Wairaka Marae.

He said one of key focuses in signing the deed was to ensure unity among Ngati Awa.
After Mr Ngaropo finished his speech, Mrs Ratahi-Pryor stood to continue with the presentation.

However Ngati Hokopu ki Hokowhitu representative Maanu Paul said he wanted to address Mr Ngaropo’s statement.
Mr Paul said the perception of unity among the tribe depended on where you stood.

“From my point of view there cannot be unity until the return of the Ngati Awa block has been recognised.”
The Ngati Awa block referred to by Mr Paul is the Ngati Awa Historical Estate which is a sheep and beef farm situated in the hills behind the Ohope settlement (it was formerly known as the Ngati Awa Farm).

In the days before Government confiscation, the land in the “Ngati Awa farm” was populated by Ngati Hokopu, Ngati Wharepaia and Ngati Pukeko.
The land was included in the Ngati Awa settlement because the leadership at the time said that it was important to get the land back first and returning it to the hapu would be addressed after that. It was also seen as an asset that would allow the tribal organisation to continue operating until it received payment from the Government.

Mr Paul said his hapu (a sub-group of Ngati Hokopu) had commended him to seek the return of the “Ngati Awa farm” to the rightful hapu as it was no longer needed to prop up the runanga.
“The longer this goes unaddressed, the larger the bitterness of this nawe grows… You need to address it.

“However I’m not saying that it will happen in this year but it could happen in five years. And I think that we have the capacity on this new board to make the changes.”
However Pahipoto representative Tuwhakairiora (Conn) O’Brien said many of the hapu had “nawe” but he was unsure whether the board was the right place to address these issues or whether they could make a change.

Aubree Kohunui, who represents Warahoe, said he believed the new board had the capacity to make a real difference.
“However if it is moemoea stuff then I am not really interested in that. I want to make a difference where it is possible.”

Mr Ngaropo repeated his message of the importance of unity but said he agreed that a forum needed to be provided so that the issues could be addressed.
He said this was the first time that Ngati Hokopu had raised the issue of the Ngati Awa farm in the 20 years that he had been part of the runanga.

“The power of the Runanga rests with the marae… There will be an opportunity for the hapu to represent.”
Ngati Wharepaia representative Materoa Dodd stood up to disagree with Mr Ngaropo’s statement.

She said it was not the first time the issue had been raised.
“In fact I have raised it many times on behalf of Ngati Wharepaia… It has always been on the table, it has never been off the table.”

Stan Ratahi, who represents Ngati Hikakino, said issues among the tribe could not be dealt with until matter of the land lost by Taiwhakaea had been rectified.
“How are we ever going to address that? A lot of the land was taken away from the hapu, I am talking about Taiwhakaea here. Land was given away to other hapu and they sold it.

“We cannot do anything about it, it is too late. I get sick when this topic comes up. You cannot address Taiwhakaea, you cannot fix the rest of them.”
Mr Ratahi did not seem to accept that the Ngati Awa settlement had adequately compensated the Taiwhakaea hapu for the loss of their lands.

It was at this point that Mrs Ratahi-Pryor, who is the sister of Mr Ratahi, stood up and said the workshop was a closed session. She then directly addressed me and said I had to leave because she wanted the board members to feel as though they could speak freely without fear of their comments appearing in a public forum.
And while I can appreciate the need for board members to feel as though they can speak freely I write about this experience for two reasons.

Firstly, it was Mrs Ratahi-Pryor that invited people to attend the workshop in the first place. At the AGM, held at Wairaka Marae in November, she had said encouraged people to attend so that they could observe what was expected of board members.
She had not left instructions with her staff that the workshop was a closed session.

Rules are rules and I would have respected any decision from the board for the session to be closed however it seems as though the direction came from Mrs Ratahi-Pryor alone and the only reason she seems to have made it a closed session was to prevent the information ending up on this blog.
As a member of the tribe I am a beneficiary of the Runanga and shouldn’t the Ngati Awa uri have the right to hear information about the organisation that is meant to be responsible for administrating our tribal assets?

My intention is not to be a trouble-maker but to present the information that I have collected so that you can take from it what you will and make your own decisions about it. My hope is that many more people will be inspired to become engaged members of our iwi and therefore help boost our tribe.
Secondly, and more importantly, I wanted to take the time to remind people about the job of a TRONA board member.

While the TRONA board is ultimately responsible for the whole organisation it is not responsible for making money, that is the area of the financial arm, Ngati Awa Group Holdings (NAGHL). It is, however, responsible for the governance of the tribal entity.
And board members must remember that governance relates to processes and decisions that seek to define actions, grant power, and verify performance.

Therefore the TRONA board must define actions through a clear strategy, select people to oversee its interests in other subsidiaries such as NAGHL and verify that key members such as the chief executive are performing in their jobs.
One of their first jobs this year will be to select members to sub-committees including the executive, audit, and investment sub-groups. They will also need to select a chairperson and a deputy.

These decisions will be made at the first board meeting to be held in February and I urge all of the representatives to become very familiar with the TRONA charter and to think very seriously about who they will support in the key positions. I would hope that most will take the decisions back to their hapu and ask you what you think.
And finally, I want to sign off this post with a new rule: I will no longer allow the publication of comments without a name. If you would like to comment then you must do so using your real name, all other statements will be deleted.

Ma te wa.

1 comment:

  1. Unite people of Ngatiawa are we to put our Trust in a Board of power trippers who are lead by the dollar sign.We need to vote them ALL out and find people who are honest and have integrity i know it's hard but surely there are a few amongst the people. So let us vote them OUT.

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