Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Speak up, I say

Wow, it’s been awhile.

Anyhow... I liked this story. That is not to say l liked the subject but I thought the reporter, Tim Donoghue, did a good job with it.
I thought he presented a clear and balanced story with comment mostly left for those he had interviewed rather than allowing his own opinion to colour the story. The sidebar was also a good backgrounder for the story.
However the lack of comment from one of the key players got me to thinking.

The story is about how a Wainuiomata kohanga reo could be forced to charge higher prices after being taken to court by its Maori trust landowner.

Pukeatua Kohanga Reo currently charges parents $188.50 a week for each child but a dispute with the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, over its annual rent, could force it to charge up to $230.
In the article, Trust manager Aroha Thorpe said the kohanga reo had agreed in 2009 to a “fair market rental” being determined and signed an agreement to that effect but, as yet, no rent has been paid. As a result the trust has taken the kohanga to court in a bid to force payment of the full rent.
However this is not a clear cut case of tenant vs landlord.

The story notes that this “dispute appears to be the latest battle in a feud between Te Atiawa factions in Wellington and Lower Hutt. It follows arguments over ownership of a ceremonial waka and Waiwhetu Maori raising concerns about the settlement trust's finances”.

The feud stems from the transfer of ownership of the land and buildings of the former Wainuiomata College to the trust as part of the 2009 Port Nicholson Trust settlement.

While Thorpe commented on the issue with the kohanga it was noted that Trust chairman Sir Ngatata Love was unavailable for comment.
Which is a shame, the accusations levelled at the trust by the kohanga and in the backgrounder have serious undertones of disharmony and it would have been nice to hear from Sir Ngatata on the subject again.

As a Maori Affairs reporter I was often left feeling frustrated when tribal leaders either were not available for comment or simply declined. Too often my only option was to use the “not available for comment” or “declined to comment when contacted”. Which is weak, really.

I am a firm believer that tribal leaders should be accountable to their people and I think that this means commenting to the media when they have to. What do you think?


  1. I agree, Karla. Too often tribal leaders write off the media as a Pakeha instrument. There seems to be a view that leaders are only accountable on the Marae which is true, but it ignores the fact that just as many Maori get their information from the media, in particular local Maori radio and Maori TV, as opposed to hui on the local Marae.

  2. Tena korua. I disagree. You can't fairly compare an iwi trust/company/corporation with a main stream pakeha business. The Maori organisation is expected to make money in the same way as the pakeha business, but it has a dual relationship with its shareholders who not only own the business, but are all inter-related and can't sell their shares. Main stream businesses are expected by their shareholders to make a profit. Nothing else! The iwi organisation has multiple and often conflicting goals and expectations. Some matters such as whanau squabbles may appropriately be kept private. Big business (pakeha business) seldom washes its dirt linen in public. Why should Maori businesses have to?

  3. Iwi Leaders Forum have no mandate to represent Maori. Essentially, Iwi Trust boards are there to extinguish Maori Treaty rights, and are just puppets of the Crown.