Mayoral candidates refuse to acknowledge mana whenua groups

Mayoral candidates got off to a messy start at The Hui's mayoral debate with two refusing to acknowledge all mana whenua of Tāmaki, despite the Supercity's own legislation.

Surprisingly both Wayne Brown and Craig Lord said there is only one iwi which is mana whenua of Auckland and that is Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

Craig Lord, who is running fourth in the latest polls, said he believed Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is the only mana whenua of Tāmaki Makaurau. When asked if he had read any of the other iwi's Treaty Settlement accounts, he responded saying there is no way he is scrolling through any of that, absolutely not.

Former Far North Mayor Wayne Brown said there is a current legal squabble over the status of other mana whenua and he will wait until that gets sorted out before he enters into the debate.

Brown is referring to a legal challenge by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei in the High Court last year where they asserted exclusive legal rights as mana whenua in central Auckland.  The challenge came as a result of the Crown offering other iwi Treaty settlement redress in central Auckland. 

While there was no clear winner Judge Palmer sent a warning to the Crown that it ought to do a better job understanding the impact of its decisions on tikanga and the process of overlapping settlements.

Viv Beck, who is running second in recent polling, doesn't support co-governance, the Tūpuna Maunga Authority or voting members on the Independent Māori Statutory board and said people are angry and worried the good work undertaken to build relationships has turned to undemocratic decision making.

The only candidate that firmly supported a co-governance arrangement for mana whenua was Efeso Collins.  The current councillor said iwi play a pivotal part in Tāmaki Makaurau.  He said the challenge for public institutions is working out which of the 19 iwi they should be working with. 

As a solution he is proposing is a Māori Advisor to work alongside him if he was to become Mayor. 

Mana whenua groups respond

Following the debate, Auckland's mana whenua groups were quick to comment. 

North Auckland's Ngāti Manuhiri said views like this will only bring trouble. Mook Hohneck, chairman of Ngāti Manuhiri, said history and whakapapa tells us Tāmaki Makaurau is a shared whenua. 

He said there are certainly customary rights that belong to certain iwi and hapū but many others have history to the isthmus.

Ngāti Paoa Chairperson Tania Tarawa said Ngāti Paoa finds comments such as Brown and Lord’s unhelpful and ignorant of the iwi landscape. She said Ngāti Paoa's history is part of the history of the city and their expectations are that any prospective civic leader do more to understand that.

Deputy chair of the Independent Māori Statutory Board, Tau Henare, said the board supports candidates that will go the extra mile for Māori and make a difference for Māori across the board.

The debate which was held at Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei’s marae, Tumutumu Whenua quizzed the candidates on co-governance, social issues and climate change.

The Hui debate will be broadcast on Tuesday after Newshub Late.

The Hui presenter Mihingarangi Forbes is from Ngāti Paoa, one of the Auckland mana whenua groups.