Po Box 128
Ph 8154321 x 8820
Open Letter to Te Runanga o Ngapuhi
E te teina Sonny, Tena Koe
A week ago, I wrote an open letter to the Runanga, expressing some concerns that are widespread through Nga Puhi. If one
good thing has come from this action, it is that dozens of people have started to reflect on what it means to be Nga
Since last week, certain people affiliated with the Runanga have made public comments about me in emails to others. In
any professional organisation, such comments would result in disciplinary action and possibly even dismissal, but I am
not going to respond to name calling and will leave those individuals to contemplate their own mana when they stoop to
what seems like hate speech. Two individuals in particular have made some very nasty comments, and they should be aware
of the depth of anger their comments have created among several kaumatua who have called or visited me in the weekend.
The fact that one member of the runanga questioned my own whakapapa led one kaumatua to say he was outraged by the
runanga. I hope that the hard-working and committed chairman of the runanga will be able to take the appropriate action
to educate some of his staff.
The whole issue erupted when a journalist who was interviewing me contacted the Runanga to find out a bit about my
background. A person from the runanga, and I am close to finding out who, told the journalist that I had no right to
speak on behalf of any Maori in Nga Puhi, because only the runanga could do that. This was what prompted the letter.
I have no axe to grind with the runanga, but certain individuals in it are causing real harm to our culture. What they
need to realise is that it is whakapapa that makes us Ngapuhi. Without that, we cannot identify as Ngapuhi. Claiming
that whakapapa, rangatira and tohunga lines are no longer important, and that our history is in the past and should be
forgotten, is shocking – I don’t know of any other iwi in the country where runagna members would even think like this,
let alone put such statements into print. It signals a sick state of cultural awareness among the individuals concerned,
and reminds me of the colonised way of thinking that used to prevail in New Zealand in the 1950s.
Of course, new structures, such as runanga, are needed. Times change, and we must change with them, but it is vital to
maintain our mauri – which is a Ngapuhi mauri. I would be interested to know how well-informed some of those in the
runanga who have been smearing me across the country are about Ngapuhi whakapapa. Maybe the opportunity will present
itself sometime soon where all these lingering concerns can be brought out in the open.
I have received numerous calls of support in the past few days from very senior people in Ngapuhi. If, as one of the
runanga members writes, whakapapa is a thing of the past, I would challenge them to make those statements at a hui in
front of these kaumatua and myself: face-to-face.
Finally, as for the statement that these matters should not be brought out in public, maybe those people who have made
these statements should look into our history. Heke, Kawiti, Hone Heke Ngapua, Hone Toia, Ihaia Kuao, Hoterene, Te Ripi
Wihongi, Hemi Tupe, Kaka Porowini and many others did exactly that. It is the tika way for certain issues when they have
reached boiling point, as I believed this one is about to, that they be cooled in front of everyone. I, for one, have
nothing to hide.
cc Helen Clark
cc Parekura Horomia
cc Donald Brash
cc Jerry Brownlee
cc Dover Samuels
cc John Key
cc Tariana Turia
cc Pita Sharples
cc Hone Harawira
cc John Tamihere