Tamihere cautious on urban Māori High Court ruling

By Harata Brown

The National Urban Māori representative John Tamihere is happy about the outcome of their latest High Court challenge, which ruled that urban Māori were vitally affected by recent recommendations regarding a fisheries settlement trust fund.

But the Urban Māori figure says their latest court battle with Māori Fisheries Trust Te Ohu Kaimoana isn't much of a victory.

"When you continue to be trampled on by leaders who don't even respect our culture, and when we're in positions of authority and power and hand the mana back to them, you don't expect this nonsense. So it's a bit of a pyrrhic victory really."  

On Friday, The Wellington High Court found that Urban Māori weren't consulted over an Iwi Working Group's proposed changes to Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust, a $20 million dollar Māori Fisheries Settlement Trust Fund. The proposal seeks to increase the number of the trust's directors from three to five.

"And we have been commanded by this judgement to meet together,” says Tamihere, “But now this time, the iwi leaders are told that you can't appoint directors to this fund unless they have experience and knowledge of Urban Maori groupings."

In a written response, the Māori fisheries trust said they will need to look at how it would re-engage with urban Māori groups in respect to the proposed changes. They say that these issues will be worked through in the coming weeks.

Tamihere says, “It (the Judgement) tells them, ‘hey your people over here in the cities are not doing very well, and they need to be recognised’. So they need to be recognised by people who really know their plight.”

The court, however, didn't quash the iwi lead proposal over Te Pūtea Whakatupu, but rather ruled that Te Ohu Kaimoana is obliged to forward a fresh process resolution for urban Māori input to the Minister responsible.