Open Letter to the Hon. Christopher Finlayson from Edwin Emery

Edwin Donald Emery

Email :

08 September 2014

Open Letter to the Hon. Christopher Finlayson

Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Email :

Ref : 1. letter from David Manuel, Chairperson, Ngati Kahu ki Whangaroa Trust Board(NKKWTB) to David Tapsell, Office of Treaty Settlements dated 11 August 2014.
Ref : 2. (attachment) assessment of letter

Tena Koe Minister,

This communication to David Tapsell is embarrassing to say the least.

I can hear the guffaws from Wellington as I write.

1. I had the letter assessed by two people, qualified in the presentation of English in written form, both educated at tertiary level. One ,an English teacher at secondary level and the other a qualified medical professional who ,on occasion , presents research papers. (see attachment)

2. Both concluded, the writer to be ‘uneducated’, operating at a year 6/7 level (10-11 year old), with no format or structure, unable to articulate a position and lacking in the requisite skills associated with that.

3. This referenced communication has the disturbing effect of undermining the tribe, its authority and genuine desire to resolve the ‘mamae’ of its colonial past.

4. Quite apart from this I would say to Mr. Manuel he needs to improve as well as, up skill his literacy skills. There is no shame in this :

  • My mother’s native tongue was neither English or Maori, she took herself back to high school in her 50’s to learn to speak and write in ‘proper English’, despite being bilingual.
  • My father had a tattered ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ never far from his grasp.
  • A friend (Chairperson of a Tribal Trust Board), educated, fluent and articulate in both Maori and English always had his written communications proofread and vetted to ensure those who received his communications understood exactly what he was saying and that he had articulated the position of his tribe.

5. This brings to the fore the skill set of those who make up the Trust Board and the administration processes they had in place. Was there not someone to vet this communication? Did administration staff not have this role? What about other Board members? Surely there existed among the Board members someone knowledgeable in written communication. If not, did they attempt to acquire the necessary skill set themselves or hire those that had them? To have these processes in place would be a given and would indicate the Board not only understood its mandate but manifested it in its day to day running. The Ngati Kahu ki Whangaroa Trust Board did not. The inadequacy of the Board in its so called ‘mandated’ role has long been documented, in communications to the Crown. This was flagged by the 2007 signing of an Agreement in Principle (AIP) on a tarmac at Kerikeri. The intended signing was to be at Taemaro, ancestral home of the tribe. It moved owing to significant tribal dissent at what was being agreed on by The Board and the Crown. The communication of that dissent, the lack of confidence in the Trust board, has been consistent over the last 9 years.

6. For all this the Crown still maintains the viewpoint that the Ngati Kahu ki Whangaroa Trust Board (NKKWTB) is the mandated body. It is patently clear that the person fronting this body is ill-equipped for the position. The processes, checks and balances within that body are mediocre or non-existent. When was the last time this Board put out any relevant information to its registered members through its website ?

NKKWTB lacks the full support of a significant section of the tribe.But, the government still continues to view NKKWTB as the mandated body. Recent communications from David Tapsell (Office of Treaty Settlements) : 25 August 2014

“Once I have your views I will consider these and then discuss with the NKKWTB. As I said,
and the Crown has been consistent on this, any arrangement in respect of the Stony Creek farm will need to be acceptable to the NKKWTB as the mandated body so the sooner options are raised with them the better.” Why has this then turned into a Janus ‘cat’. That is, one tribe – now two (non-mandated) heads!
Whakarongo mai te Karauna!

7. The other ‘non-mandated body’ is the ‘Aukiwa Working Party’ : a group that shares similar characteristics with NKKWTB (my letter to you dated 20 August 2014).
When will you, the Crown, take responsibility for your past and not turn this into the ‘Taniwha’ it is becoming.


Edwin Emery

Ref : 1. Letter to Minister re NKKWTB Chairperson

Ref : 2. Assessment of Letter

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