The Maori King

The Dom Post editorial:

The English got rid of the absolute power of the monarchy in 1215 when King John’s seal was attached to the Magna Carta at Runnymede. In Waikato, former MP Tukoroirangi Morgan wants to bring it back to protect the “mana” and “prestige” of the Maori king.

Mr Morgan, a central figure in the long-running dispute between King Tuheitia and sacked Waikato- parliament chairwoman Tania Martin, wants the king given the power to veto decisions made by the parliament and even to dissolve the body that represents ’s 63,000 members. “We must never be able to go to court to settle our differences,” he said this week.

The parliament and Waikato Maori should reject Mr Morgan’s proposal.

The dispute between the king and tribal representatives in the parliament appears to be over control of Treaty settlement moneys that have now grown to $800 million. Those moneys were paid to Tainui by the Crown to settle the historical grievances of all Tainui, not just those of the king or the coterie of advisers who cluster about him.

Decisions about how that money is invested and how the dividends from it are spent should be made by all Tainui.

King Tuheitia’s mother, the Maori queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, was widely respected within Maoridom and outside it for the quiet dignity with which she performed her role. Behind the scenes, she knew how to work the phones but, publicly, she made a point of staying above the rough and tumble of politics.

King Tuheitia shows no such restraint. Not only has he got himself offside with the Government and alienated much of the Pakeha world by nonsensically declaring that Maori have “always owned the water”, but he has also allowed himself to be drawn into intra-tribal disputes and wrangles over the spending of Tainui money by the executive Mr Morgan once headed.

King Tuheitia seems to listen to Tuku Morgan only.

Morgan Godfery at Maui Street blogs:

 Gifting the King the power to dissolve tribal parliaments will not solve the political and structural problems in Tainui. At most, inserting the Kingitanga as the ultimate decision maker will only change the way tribal politics is played. So, rather than engage in legal plays**, ambitious tribal politicians will jostle for standing in the Kingitanga. Lobbying, not law, will be du jour. …

Here are the problems: 1) Under Tuku’s model, the King could dissolve TK and override the will of the individual iwi members. …

The troubles in Tainui are not tidy and while I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, I’m sure the answer is not to reduce democracy in favour of feudalism.

The infighting doesn’t affect me directly obviously. But I can’t see feudalism as helping the hapu and whanua of Tainui, for whom the settlements were intended to benefit.

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