Earlier this year Te Kauhanganui Inc Soc (TKI) (principal governing authority of Waikato Tainui) confirmed its new members from which a new executive committee (Te Arataura – TAA) was formed.
TAA stated it would:
‘Nurture relationships; maintain and uphold the objects of TKI; work in a consensus manner; and work collaboratively with TKI to ensure clarity on the powers, roles and responsibilities of TAA.’
Since that time TAA has failed to uphold its own ‘principles’, undermined TKI and its 2011 Rules and it interfered with the election of marae delegates.
Due to the seriousness of the arbitrary actions taken by the committee members Chen Palmer was instructed to provide an opinion on the validity of the elections of Hiiona Marae and the validity of the actions of TAA in these processes. TAA had asked Minter Ellison Rudd Watts to provide an opinion on the same matters.
Chen Palmer’s (12-page) legal opinion is summarised in part:
The actions of the CEO of Waikato Raupatu Lands Trust (WRLT) in refusing to publish an election certificate from Hiiona Marae containing the minimum requirements were ultra-vires (or beyond the powers) of the 2011 Rules.
Members did not complain in time of the first election, the first election certificate or the publication of names in the Waikato Times (10 Dec 2011). Therefore the enabling mechanism for TAA to investigate allegedly invalid elections was not triggered.
TAA published the election certification without appropriate consultation with TKI Officers (as required by Rules) on a significant governance and constitutional matter; and without consideration for the risk this decision might pose to TKI; and
This conduct has the potential – if it has no already done so – to bring TKI into disrepute – thus triggering the disqualification and removal provisions of Rule 5.3.
In summary the CEO’s action in both investigating invalidity and omitting to publish the Hiiona representative’s names was contrary to the Rules and therefore invalid or illegal.
That the actions of TAA and the CEO to publish without notice to the TKI Officers represents something of a constitutional crisis: the management arm of TKI has of its own volition without consultation decided to ignore the fact the Hiiona Marae has three incumbent members already in place for the 2012-2015 triennial term.