Tuku Morgan says a plan to scrap Waikato-Tainui's tribal parliament and its executive board has to pass through the institutions that he wants put to bed.
The tribe's 198-member parliament represents 66 marae. Every three years the parliament elects 10 members to its executive board, Te Arataura, with one appointed by King Tuheitia. Mr Morgan was appointed as the king's representative in December.
"Change has to happen and change is inevitable," Mr Morgan said.
This is one of the most significant post-settlement issues – what does an ideal iwi structure look like? Bell Gully lists three fundamental criteria:
- a structure where the individual iwi members have ultimate control;
- the legal capacity and powers of the structure are certain; and
- ownership and management functions are kept separate, as are commercial and non-commercial objectives.
In Tainui, iwi members exercise indirect control. Iwi members don’t enjoy an individual vote, but their vote is part of a collective vote – the Marae vote. It isn’t a purely democratic model rather it awards iwi members that are intimately connected with their Marae. Iwi members that are disconnected from their Marae are, in practice, disenfranchised and disconnected from tribal politics. As a result, representatives in Te Kauhanganui (TK) and appointees to Te Arataura are not accountable to iwi members at large. Instead representatives and appointees owe their patronage to individual Marae or the Kingitanga. The consequence: gridlock. The better system would involve a postal ballot of all iwi members under an at-large system. That way, representatives are accountable to and represent iwi interests – not the interests of a single Marae, the Kingitanga or a political faction. Iwi members could punish political gridlock. At the moment, political gridlock can be awarded if it serves the interests of the sponsoring entity (e.g. the Kingitanga).
On the second count, Tainui structures fail miserably. The rules regulating tribal affairs are unnecessarily complex. Opposing factions have tested the rules in High Court on several occasions in the past two years. From the beginning of the 2010 financial year through to 2012 Chapman Tripp collected over $1m in legal fees and Bell Gully collected almost $300,000. Over four other firms cashed in as well. Yeah, less than ideal. The government could and should step in here. Better legislation is required for post-settlement structures. It is unsuitable, in my opinion, for TK to operate under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908. Legislation grounded in tikanga Maori would seem more appropriate - including a provision providing for Maori dispute resolution.
The third point is satisfied. However, a fourth point is missing. Iwi structures should be run according to Maori values. Wealth creation and distribution should be at the centre of iwi structures, but that should be subject to:
· Kaitiakitanga – in other words sustainable investment.
· Manaakitanga – meaning ethical investment.
· Whakapapa – investment should, where possible, be made within the iwi and the benefits distributed within the iwi. This could mean that a primary focus of iwi is job creation within their rohe.
· Mauri – efforts are made to preserve iwi anchors – for example their respective reo, tikanga, kawa and so on.
This is a rough outline, of course, but I think it is a useful guide to how iwi structures should operate. Debates around representation, legal certainty and management practice are occurring across the motu (the country). Waikato-Tainui are having their debate in the most public fashion, but that doesn’t mean the issue is confined. Karla Akuhata is highlighting similar issues in Ngati Awa. This is a debate that must be had. After all, if we aren't seeing any benefits post-settlement, then what was the point?