Tūhoe protestors call for iwi leader to resign over claims of 'bully tactics' against hapu

Source: 1News

Tūhoe artist and activist Tame Iti is calling for the resignation of his tribe's chairman with a protest raising concerns over the iwi's leadership after months of growing tension.

Discontent with Tamati Kruger and leadership decisions has seen some hapu - sub-tribes - pull away from the iwi’s governing authority - Te Uru Taumatua.

Kaumatua – tribal elders – are among those protesting as well, saying they feel undermined.

But Iti told 1 NEWS enough is enough.

“We're not marching to Parliament, we're marching to our own leadership,” Iti said while protesting outside the iwi’s headquarters.

“I'm here to look for a solution and find a way. If it means that we're going to provoke this debate and argument internally with ourselves then we're going to take it out to the world to hear.”

One hapu received a letter after leaving last year, saying that the door was always open for it to return to the fold but in the meantime, it was advised it would no longer have access to a large amount of resources.

This included education grants, hunting licences, fish and tents for tangihanga and no say in board appointments and management of their river Ohinemataroa and forest Te Urewera.

Iti called the move “bully tactics”.

“You can't do that because if you block people away, internally you're going to have a problem.”

Tūhoe signed it's $170 million treaty settlement with the Crown in 2013 with mana motuhake – self-determination - as their key belief.

But soon after, disagreement began when some hapu members applied to the provincial growth fund to upgrade marae and were turned away while Te Uru Taumatua allegedly used Crown money freely.

Now, the growing tension has led to calls for Kruger, the tribe's treaty negotiator and current chairman of Te Uru Taumatua, to resign.

1 NEWS has spoken to key members of the iwi leadership but no one wanted to comment publicly about the situation and multiple attempts to speak with Kruger went unanswered. A spokesperson for Te Uru Taumatua also respectfully declined to comment.

Regardless, the iwi’s protesting members are still calling for korero.

“I'm really open for that, for some collaboration,” Iti said.

“Not dictatorship – we don't want dictatorship and bulliness.”