Case against chairman should be heard on the marae - Kaumātua

By Mānia Clarke

Police Inspector and Te Puea Marae Chair Hurimoana Dennis is expected to offer to stand down as Chair at a Marae Trust board meeting tonight.  This follows revelations he will soon be charged for allegedly kidnapping a 17-year old, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.

The Te Puea marae trust board will be meeting sometime tonight.  Mr Dennis will attend the meeting, where he will offer to resign. Marae locals say they remain supportive of the man who fronted their Manaaki Tangata homeless programme. Marae elder Morehu Kara and caretaker Mona Kingi say the pending court case should be settled on the marae.

Despite Mr Dennis' intention to resign as chair of Te Puea Marae, marae locals say they won't accept.

Kingi says, “No I don't, and I hope the rest of the trustees don't!  Because if you look out in the wide world, he's out there and how much he helped homeless. And he's done a bloody good job.  I just hope we don't lose him, and he's part of our marae now, he's part of the whole community.”

Mr Dennis has been under investigation since last year for allegedly locking a teenage boy in an Auckland police station cell, in an attempt to end a sexual relationship with an underage girl. Locals say the issue should be dealt with through Māori protocol.

Kara says, “The teenage boy's family yes, as well as the young girl's family. We should all come together to talk. With the intention to help and care according to the customs of our ancestors.”

Mr Dennis was stood down by police in September last year after a complaint was laid by the teenage boy.

“His actions came about to teach the boy to consider his actions.  However, the law may see things differently, but for us from a Māori viewpoint, his actions were to help the boy,” says Kara.

Kara and Kingi are also calling on Māori MP's to support Huri.

Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare says, “I've already spoken to most of the Māori MPs.  They told me they support him.”

Meanwhile his lawyer Stephen Bonnar believes Mr Dennis should not face any charges, because he acted in the best interests of the young people involved in the case.