Kaipara mayor Craig Jepson not backing down on banning karakia from council meetings


Kaipara's mayor will not change his stance on banning karakia from council meetings.

Craig Jepson interrupted councillor Peri Paniora several times this week when she tried to start a hui with a prayer in te reo Māori.

He has been called culturally insensitive by some members of the public.

But Jepson said he handled the situation correctly.

Councillors were there to do business and specific religions or cultures should not be included in meetings, he said.

"I don't have to include anything in the meetings. I don't have to include Indian culture, Asian culture, any other culture or religion or non-religious group - or nordic - I don't have to give selections to anybody. We're there to do the business, we don't have to open it in any way."

He was not insensitive, he said.

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon has said he was shocked and disappointed about what had happened at the council meeting.

"It's very important for councils and all organisations to create the right space to encourage Māori to honour the Treaty of Waitangi, to provide a space to express their culture and language," Foon said.

"I would encourage the leaders of Kaipara District Council to acknowledge that and create a safe environment for all people."