Removal Of Two Maungatautari Trustees
Media Release 8 November 2010
Removal Of Two Maungatautari Trustees Indicates Where New Zealand Is Going
Two Trustees of the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust have been voted off the board by other Trustees following their refusal to accept a new governance structure that effectively gives control of the community project to a small local iwi group.
Community representative Fiona Judd and landowner representative Peter Holmes, were voted off the board after Waipa District Council and Environment Waikato exerted pressure on the board. It was ‘agree with iwi demands or we will take over the Trust’.
A lot of people turned up for the meeting to voice disapproval about the proposed governance structure but were prevented from speaking by interim chairman Doug Arcus.
Following the removal of the Trustees during a closed session, the remaining Trustees moved quickly to introduce prepared resolutions that changed the requirement needed for a change to the constitution and governance structure. Those changes can be made with 75% vote rather than 100%.
Fiona Judd said throughout all of the governance review local Maori have been unbending in their demand for one model of governance, where they have control. This has been made possible with the unusual level of support from the Waipa District Council and Environment Waikato.
However Judd said the model is totally wrong for the project.
“The MEIT project is not some prize being returned as a consequence of past grievance. Neither is it some quazi statutory body with regulatory oversight and guaranteed budget.
“The project is a unique private landowner, iwi landowner, community, Crown amalgamation in which each party is integral to the whole but none has premier status.
“The new structure rides straight across all of this and imposes a straitjacket of iwi/local government ideology.
“I could not allow the very engine that has powered this project to be so assaulted and the representation of those who have built the project to be so abused.
“I voted against the proposal and was therefore voted off the Trust as a consequence.”
She said good people with a genuine desire for this project to prosper have been stampeded by haste to support the new structure.
“Both iwi and local government have hounded the Trust to first adopt a more unrepresentative and unfair structure, which was only stopped by landowner/volunteer attendance at a key meeting. In the glare of publicity the Trust went back to negotiation once more and agreed to a wider consultation. Then the coercion shifted to the now adopted model and with less than positive feedback from community consultation this has been pushed through with indecent haste.
“Ngati Koroki Kahukura have said they will put a $1 million into the Trust per year but there are simply no guarantees they will get money in a Treaty settlement or that they will use it for a non profit project.”
She said ironically local government, having so fully planted their support behind the new model, should now be duty bound to assist in the possible insolvency situation. This means the ratepayer will pay for socio-political ideology. However the ratepayer representation as landowners and community supporters will have been watered down by this new structure. It will be greater contribution for less representation.
The other Trustee voted off the Trust for refusing to agree to the iwi, Waipa District and Environment Waikato demands, Peter Holmes, said he just could not live with himself if he had agreed to a clearly race based governance structure.
“What was proposed is not workable because it sets out from the beginning to have them and us. The only way this Trust can work is to have everyone working together for a common outcome.
“This new structure enshrines a situation where everyone is set apart from each other.”
Holmes said he was on the Trust as a landowner representative and therefore landowners would now consider they have no representation.
“A lot of landowners have land inside the fence that was agreed to be through goodwill built up around that project. I would say that goodwill is being destroyed as iwi and councils make their collective demands.”
Fiona Judd said for five years as a Trustee the Trust Board had been wishing for more engagement with mana whenua.
She said heartening as it is to see mana whenua committing to more involvement with the MEIT Project, the manner and conditions of such involvement extracts a heavy cost on the project.
Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust was set up to fund the development of a pest proof fenced sanctuary. Once the 47 kilometre stainless steel fence was completed a programme of pest eradication then cleared the 3500 hectares of all pests. Native species have been reintroduced and vegetation has been allowed to grow without grazing pressure. The bush covered area inside the fence is made up of a 2500 hectare Crown reserve, private land owned by adjacent farmers and land held by various Maori families of which some are associated with Ngati Koroki Kahukura.