A kick in the protocols teaches Porirua mayor to be nice to his deputy or Ngati Toa will turn nasty

Oh dear. Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett has lost the respect of the Ngati Toa bunch.

His offence?

Something to do with the wrong protocol and being rude to the deputy mayor, who happens to be from Ngati Toa.

We learn this from news here of what transpired during a presentation to Porirua City Council at a meeting last night.

Dunno if anyone can bowl along and make a presentation.

Alf would say it’s a fair bet no, they can’t, and only special people can do this. Anyone who can claim to be Ngati Toa, of course, would rank as a special person.

One of the tribe’s more elderly special persons is a bloke by name of Thom Kenny, and he said during the aforementioned presentation the council had not been operating with proper tikanga (protocol) when it came to Ngati Toa issues.

In other words, if Alf is reading this correctly, the council must apply one set of protocols when it is dealing with the special people of Ngati Toa and another set for the rest of its citizens.

So what’s been upsetting this Kenny bloke?

“We have a dysfunctional council led by a dysfunctional mayor,” he said. “We want a better Porirua for our mokopuna but you are selling us short, Mr Mayor. We are hurting and we will not hurt any more.”

Alf supposed something terrible had happened in Porirua and this terrible thing had escaped the attention of the hacks at the Dom-Post.

But no.

This is a story about local Maori becoming very tribal.

Mr Kenny was supported by more than a dozen Ngati Toa members who attended the meeting to raise concerns over the treatment of deputy mayor Liz Kelly – a Ngati Toa member – at a Te Komiti meeting last month.

During a discussion about the Porirua Whanau Centre, of which Ms Kelly is chief executive, Mr Leggett told his deputy to shut her mouth, as she had stepped back from the debate because of her conflict of interest.

So we learn two things.

First, Ngati Toa have the privilege of being plugged into the council through this komiti setup where they get to tell the council what to do without having to worry about being accountable to voters for what then transpires.

Second, if someone from Ngati Toa has a conflict of interest, please be careful about how you handle that person or the tribe will turn nasty.

The Dom-Post goes on to say the offending comment came after weeks of rising tensions between Ms Kelly and other councillors over controversial changes in the Whanau Centre’s governance, and a public spat over the funding for community health festival Creekfest.

Ms Kelly and Mr Leggett had each questioned the other’s motivations for supporting the festival after its funding was cut, with Ms Kelly saying the mayor was trying to undermine her efforts in running the event.

Anything else of interest for those of us who need to learn new protocols when dealing with special people?

Oh, yes.

Ms Kelly had also been criticised by councillors for missing six out of 10 council meetings since December, with the council refusing to accept her apologies at an extraordinary meeting last month because of her repeated absences.

So a Ngati Toa member not only sits on the council, but also is its deputy mayor.

But her attendance record is – well, somewhat spotty.

You might think Ngati Toa were pissed off with their representative for skipping so many meetings.

But that’s because you don’t have a Maori world view, and furthermore it’s what happens at komiti meetings – in all likelihood – that really matter.

Thus the culprit here is the mayor, who does turn up to meetings.

Mr Kenny said the mayor’s treatment of Ms Kelly at the February 14 meeting was disappointing for someone in his position. “It was for the better to let sleeping dogs lie instead of interfering with our business and stirring up the hornet’s nest,” he said. “We want our mayor to really earn our respect, because it is not given lightly.”

Ms Kelly was their proper representative on the council, and the disrespect towards her meant Ngati Toa would “come in force” on any issues that affected the iwi.

Uh, oh. Coming in force obviously is not meant to be a pleasant experience for the mayor.

Actually, it seems we might be talking about heavying the poor bugger with the threat of mob power.

Moreover, he has been reminded that he should make the effort to put things right by going to see them.

He has been further reminded that the tribe has got lots of money…

“If there is a problem with Ngati Toa, then you should come to Ngati Toa. We are now a very wealthy iwi, and you need to consider that.”

What does that mean?

Wealthy citizens (particularly special ones) should be treated differently from poor ones?

The Maori way of doing things is interesting, eh?

Mr Kenny invited Mr Leggett and the rest of the council to a hui with kaumatua and iwi representatives to discuss the problem.

So what was the presentation all about?

Simply an opportunity for Ms Kelly’s tribe to tell the world they have put the mayor in his place?

Apparently so.

And Mayor Leggett has learned his lesson. He will do the tribe’s bidding.

He told The Dominion Post he would happily attend.

“I regret what I said in this instance, and I accept it wasn’t becoming of a mayor. It’s a good lesson for me to hold my tongue in the future.”

Yep. Hold you tongue and sort out your tikanga.


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