Māori lawyer warns belittling of Māori women not on

By Ripeka Timutimu

A Māori lawyer has taken offence after being cursed at by a representative of the Iwi Leaders' Group. 

Annette Sykes says Willie Te Aho swore at her while running a consultation meeting with the group last night in Rotorua. 

Sykes has been in heated debates before, and last night was no exception. 

She says, "Willie swore at me, but after he thought about it, he knew it was wrong."

Sykes says the incident between herself and the meeting facilitator Willie Te Aho was settled at the meeting, but she's worried others may become targets.

"We were debating, but a word of warning not to discriminate women," she says.

Last week the Iwi Leaders' Group began a series of consultation meetings throughout the country regarding Te Ture Whenua reform and water rights.  Sykes says Māori rights are being tested.

"Don't belittle Māori women.  We have our thoughts and views on issues.  Māori men shouldn't criticise us just because they don't agree with our views," says Sykes.

Te Aho was unavailable to comment on the matter, because he was busy travelling to Te Hāpua for another consolation hui.  Although Te Arawa Iwi Leaders' Group member, Toby Curtis, was absent from the hui.  He said whilst the incident was not ideal, he wouldn't be taking the issue any further. 

"My question to Toby, where are Te Arawa protocols that support the women of Te Arawa?" says Sykes.

The next consultation meeting is tonight in Kaitaia, and will continue around the country until January 28.