Iwi de­fends its own

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

You at­tack Liz Kelly, you at­tack Ngati Toa. That was the mes­sage from the iwi’s kau­matua coun­cil chair­man Thom Kenny last week when he ad­dressed a full meet­ing of the Porirua City Coun­cil.

Backed by a full pub­lic gallery, Mr Kenny spoke for nearly 40 min­utes, de­cry­ing Mayor Nick Leggett’s out­burst at a com­mit­tee meet­ing on Fe­bru­ary 14, where he told Ms Kelly to shut her mouth.

Mr Kenny said Ms Kelly’s in­tegrity was un­der at­tack and that was an in­sult to Ngati Toa.

‘‘We held a [kau­matua] meet­ing and I was di­rected to come here [to the coun­cil] and put things to rest. You are sell­ing us short, Mr Mayor, we are hurt­ing. You want our re­spect, you earn it, be­cause it is not given lightly. You have a dys­func­tional coun­cil led by a dys­func­tional mayor.’’

He said a num­ber of the iwi were in poverty and not see­ing the ben­e­fits of the coun­cil’s spend­ing with the poor state of the har­bour one ex­am­ple where the coun­cil was fail­ing.

Af­ter a re­cent set­tle­ment with the Crown, his tribe had po­ten­tially more in­flu­ence, he said.

‘‘We are a wealthy iwi, you need to con­sider that.’’

Fel­low Ngati Toa kau­matua Taku Parai, cul­tural ad­viser to the coun­cil, sat silently next to Mr Kenny.

He told Kapi-Mana News af­ter the meet­ing that he ‘‘had to tread lightly’’ but said the re­la­tion­ship be­tween his tribe and the coun­cil was a good one. He would not com­ment when asked if Mr Kenny’s views rep­re­sented the iwi.

Mr Leggett said he had taken the crit­i­cism on the chin but ac­cepted his com­ments on Fe­bru­ary 14 were in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

‘‘I re­gret us­ing the words I did and I’m pre­pared to be held to ac­count. There is a ro­bust­ness that goes with po­lit­i­cal de­bate and I would not want that cur­tailed, and I cer­tainly do not ac­cept this is a dys­func­tional coun­cil.

‘‘ We are co­her­ent and well­bal­anced, and have made far­reach­ing de­ci­sions for the city in this term.’’

Mr Kenny had in­vited Mr Leggett and coun­cil­lors to a hui at Taka­puwahia to ‘‘ dis­cuss the is­sues’’, which Mr Leggett said would be ac­cepted.

Coun­cil com­mit­tee chair­man Euon Mur­rell said he was ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed in Mr Kenny’s ad­dress.

‘‘In my nine years on coun­cil this is the most func­tional coun­cil we’ve had. You have the odd spat but that’s pol­i­tics. Make an ap­point­ment with the mayor to have this out; to come pub­licly like that is not good for the city.’’

Mr Kenny’s com­ments come on the back of ten­sions be­tween Ms Kelly and Mr Leggett af­ter a dis­pute over the Porirua Whanau Cen­tre’s gov­er­nance and Creek­fest’s fund­ing woes.

Mean­while, the coun­cil has re­fused to ac­cept Ms Kelly’s apolo­gies for not at­tend­ing re­cent meet­ings and work­shops.

See Ed­i­to­rial – page 10

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