Former Ngāi Tahu leader Sir Mark Solomon speaks out

He led his South Island iwi from millions to more than a billion. But last year, Sir Mark Solomon suddenly walked away.

Tonight the former chairman of Ngāi Tahu speaks exclusively to Māori Television’s Native Affairs about his departure and why.

“Overall I loved the job. I can’t stand the politics. I think the politics are time wasting rubbish,” he told Native Affairs.

“I’m not accusing anyone of doing anything wrong but it doesn’t look good. Our practices are open for suspicion.”

Sir Mark was the chairman of New Zealand’s wealthiest tribe for 18 years. He took Ngāi Tahu from a treaty settlement of $170 million dollars to today’s estimated asset base of $1.4 billion dollars.

Early last year, his own people in Kaikōura questioned his leadership after he took a stand on historical sexual abuse claims in the community.

“It’s divided us in many ways. Those that were standing with the victims, those that are standing up for the alleged perpetrators. But the worst group in my view is the group that wants it buried.”

Sir Mark also told Native Affairs he has no regrets questioning the Ngāi Tahu board’s accountability.

“Some at my table didn’t like it being raised. So started leaking things to the media. That’s how it all blew up,’ he said. “I’ve done my 18 years, I’m out of purgatory.”

Native Affairs screens Sir Mark’s exclusive interview at 8pm tonight on Māori Television.