Councillor rejects swearing in doc'; pledges allegiance to te tiriti, declaration of independence

By Contributor

By Susan Botting, Local Democracy Reporter

Cr-elect Hilda Halkyard-Harawira reads out her document at FNDC's swearing in ceremony as Far North kahika (mayor) Moko Tepania looks on. Photo: LDR / Susan Botting

A Far North District councillor-elect who used her own unofficial document at the new council's 27 October swearing in ceremony, will on Thursday sign her organisation's official declaration.

She read it out as her oath of office at the swearing in ceremony, her document sitting atop the council's official declaration.

Hilda Halkyard-Harawira's document was signed by herself and FNDC mayor Moko Tepania in the Kaikohe hall after the ceremony.

The Ngā Tai o Tokerau Māori Ward councillor-elect is now the only Northland council politician still to claim their place as a councillor.

Halkyard-Harawira said after the ceremony her document was not much different from the official document. Local Democracy Reporting sought further comment from her on why she took her document to the swearing in ceremony, but was unable to get this comment by edition time.

Local Democracy Reporting asked FNDC whether it was accepting Halkyard-Harawira's document that was brought to the swearing in, read out and later signed.

FNDC chief executive Blair King said as a result of signing her own document rather than the official council declaration, Halkyard-Harawira was not yet officially sworn in. She was still a councillor-elect.

"The declaration used by councillor-elect Halkyard-Harawira on 27 October is not the one required by the Local Government Act," King said.

Tepania said he had signed Halkyard-Harawira's document on the understanding it would be acceptable to do so, given that it included the required reference to the Local Government Act 2002 and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987. It also included reference to the Treaty of Waitangi, which was part of what local government was required to give effect to.

However, subsequent FNDC legal advice was that Halkyard-Harawira needed to sign the official declaration.

FNDC meeting minutes from the livestreamed ceremony said Halkyard-Harawira had recited a declaration at the swearing in ceremony that was legally invalid.

Halkyard-Harawira will be signing the council's official declaration at the council's meeting in Kaikohe tomorrow, King said.

The official FNDC council declaration for Halkyard-Harawira's previous swearing in ceremony and required under the Local Government Act reads:

"I Hilda Halkyard-Harawira declare that I will faithfully and impartially, and according to the best of my skill and judgement, execute and perform, in the best interests of the Far North district, the powers, authorities, and duties vested in, or imposed upon me as councillor of the Far North District Council by virtue of the Local Government Act 20002, the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, or any other Act.

"Te Ōati ā Kaikaunihera Declaration of Councillor

Ko ahau ko Hilda Halkyard-Harawira ka ōati ai ki runga i te pono me te tika ka mutu ki te taumata a tōku atamai āku whakataunga, ka mahi ai mō te painga o Te Tai Tokerau, haere tonu ki ngā ihi me ngā herenga mahi, ka pā ki roto, ko uruhi ki runga i ahau hei Kaikaunihera o Te Tai Tokerau ki Te Raki, e ai ki te Ture Kāwanatanga ā-Rohe 2002, Te Ture Kāwantanga ā-Rohe mō ngā Kōrero Whakamōhio me ngā Huihuinga Kōrero 1987, me tāpiri atu ki ērā atu o ngā Ture raini.

He mea whakaū tēnei ki Kaikohekohe i tēnei rā rua tekau ma whitu o Whiringa-ā nuku I te tau rua mano rua tekau mō rua.

The following is Halkyard-Harawira's October 27 document:

"Te Ōati ā Kaunihera

Ka mea ponu au, me mahi mārika au mō Te Tai Tokerau hei painga mō Ngā Iwi Māori, e ai ki He Whakaputanga o Nu Tireni. Me hāpai hoki au ngā Iwi whānui e ai ki Te Tiriti o Waitangi me ngā ture Kawanatanga a rohe o te wā (pēra te Ture Kāwanatanga ā-Rohe 2002, Te Ture Kāwanatanga ā-Rohe mō ngā Kōrero Whakamōhio me ngā Huihuinga Kōrero 1987, me ērā atu o ngā Ture).

He mea whakaū tēnei ki I tēnei te ra 27 o Whiringa a Nuku 2022."

FNDC provided an English translation of Halkyard-Harawira's document, after a Local Democracy Reporting request. It is as follows:

"I swear/declare that I will work hard for Te Tai Tokerau for the benefit of iwi/hapū in accordance with the Declaration of Independence. I will also pledge to support the people of the district in accordance with the values of the Treaty of Waitangi (by virtue of the Local Government Act 2002, the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, or any other Act)."

Local Democracy Reporting asked for FNDC comment on the difference in who Halkyard-Harawira was pledging to support in the two documents.

"Our induction process for all newly elected members provides a crash course on local government rules, regulations and expectations. There is always a lot to process," King said.

"Councillor-elect Halkyard-Harawira understands her obligations to represent all Far North residents," King said.

Further to the Far North Mayor signing Halkyard-Harawira's unofficial document, King said that Tepania was fully aware of the requirements for councillors to declare the official oath as required under the Local Government Act.

Tepania had explained this to Halkyard-Harawira who had agreed to take the official oath at the council meeting on Thursday, King said.

 LDR / Susan Botting

Hilda Halkyard-Harawira and husband Hone Harawira after the council's pōwhiri at Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Photo / LDR / Susan Botting

In July 2011, Halkyard-Harawira's husband Hone Harawira was thrown out of Parliament after Speaker Lockwood Smith refused to swear him in as MP for Te Tai Tokerau. Harawira, the then new Mana Party leader, would not deliver his affirmation as dictated by law, attempting instead to read out an oath in which he swore allegiance to the Treaty of Waitangi rather than the then Queen.

He returned and swore allegiance to the Queen to claim his place as an MP several weeks later.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air