Iwi defends its own
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