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Corrupted database prevents court ordered AGM

Wednesday 12 July 2017


Corrupted database prevents court ordered AGM from taking place

Three High Court rulings have now directed the Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea Trust Board to hold a democratic AGM process, but last weekend’s meeting was again postponed.

A group of kaumātua, representing around 1,000 hapū members, filed proceedings with the High Court in March this year so that the hapū from Aotea (Great Barrier Island) could go through a voting process they had largely been denied for a number of years.

As a result, an AGM (overdue since November) was scheduled for May 6 and an independent chairperson put in place, QC Mr Keiran Raftery.

But all did not go well on the day, and after almost 3 hours spent attending to a disputed registration process, more than 200 attendees were told by the Trust that the premises had to be vacated almost immediately, and the meeting was adjourned.

“As the meeting was about to be closed there was a motion of no confidence,” says Pam Armstrong, kaiāwhina to the Taumata.

“This was seconded and received with a loud round of applause and support. There was overwhelming support for this motion but the independent chair would not allow it to go to a vote.”

The next court date resulted in agreements to use an independent elections body to facilitate the process for a new AGM date in June.

The Trust again stalled the process by not providing their registrant database, and the AGM was postponed until July 8.

But a report produced by ElectioNZ last week highlighted “significant issues with the integrity of the database”, and so the High Court has ordered yet another postponement while the Trust complies with previously made orders.

“It is difficult to be sure at this point that all potential members have been given the opportunity to vote,” states the report from Warwick Lampp of ElectioNZ. “There is the potential that many beneficiaries could be unnecessarily disenfranchised.”

Issues highlighted include:

• 94.6% of all new registrations being rejected by representatives of the Trust Board

• 503 previously registered members with no whakapapa to validate their inclusion on the database

• 428 previously registered members who do not appear to whakapapa to Ngāti Rehua

Hapū members have lost all confidence in the Trust, who they say has engaged in a campaign of misinformation throughout the process.

“In our opinion, their ‘official pānui’ are always sculpted with half-truths, making statements that clearly contradict official court documents,” said Shelly Davies, who leads communications for the hapū.

“We think the Trust is expecting that our people will take their word for it rather than do the hard yards to research and interpret the evidence. Our kaumātua are committed to transparency, sharing all information widely, and so the Trust’s approach will ultimately fail. You can only get away with lies for so long before the truth comes out.”

The parties have been given 2 weeks to meet with Raftery and decide on a way forward.

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