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Maori king at odds with wananga council

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(Radio NZ) The Maori king, Tuheitia, is fighting one of the country’s largest tertiary institutions over membership of its governing council.

The council of Te Wananga o Aotearoa has refused to accept the king’s nomination of Susan Cullen, daughter of the wananga’s founder and former chief executive, Rongo Wetere.
Radio New Zealand understands council members believe Ms Cullen would have a negative influence on their work.

In the mid-2000s, she provided courses for the wananga worth tens of millions of dollars, and the Auditor-General later criticised the institution for poor management of conflicts of interest when it set up those deals.

The king’s representatives says the council is constitutionally bound to accept the nomination and have called on council chair Richard Batley to resign.

(3) Comments

  1. Ngawai Robinson

    It seems to me after reading your comments Susan … this debate is more about an internal strategic review of the Wananga’s communication policy framework, rather than a compelling debate about constitutional rights that resulted with some representatives being left out of the information loop as a consequence of that In the end I believe Mr Richard Batley and the governance body have clarified their position publically and as I understand the communication ball sits in your camp i.e. the request to tendering another representative remains open! In the matter of constitutional frameworks it seems that legal constitutions and the kings office appear at odds when it comes to applying such frameworks across the board. The result matters because you associate frameworks back to representatives. So it becomes comical to the general public when the kings office don’t walk their talk. Case in point is the on-going rift between the kings representative on TAA and the democratically elected parliamentary office of Tainui’s Te Kauhanganui Inc.

  2. Ngawai Robinson

    The power grab debacle being engineered by Tuheitia’s office staff and members’ of the Aotearoa institute smacks of every type of underhanded tactics driven by self –interest. In his public statement release Tuheitia failed to address the public concerns raised by the Auditor-General regarding poor management of conflicts of interest and whanau nepotism in the Maori business world? The bias it seems remain with camp Tuheitia who are consumed by their distraction tactics forgetting the Wananga is publically accountable. Richard Batley and council members, your decisive stance to protect the reputation of the business from shady dealers like Susan Cullen and her shady backers is commendable.

    1. susan cullen

      Kia Ora Ngawai, Te Wananga o Aotearoa's Council is not complying with it's constitution. Members of Council need to be fully informed to ably represent it's Maori stakeholders of which both the Kiingitanga and the Aotearoa Institute are part of the founding Iwi. Please take the time to read the WAITANGI claim summary for 1298, and I am sure you will be able to better inform your view. Let me reiterate the key points. The Kiingitanga has held a seat at Council for over 25 years, this right is currently under review without any consultation with Kiingi Tuheitia. The office of the auditor general found no misappropriation of funds. The report came out over seven years ago. Te Wananga o Aotearoa is a courageous institution which has forged innovative models of learning delivery, outreaching where no other institution has ventured. This courage comes from a deep understanding of the needs within our Maori communities and strength from the collaboration with Iwi Maori. All governance systems to maintain legitimacy must succeed in taking the people with them, and to test issues appropriately, with all matters considered. This a a debate about the rights to Maori representation as stipulated by a legal constitution, not personality politics.

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