Image via WikipediaThe Maori King has threatened to abdicate his title if tribal members do not fall back into line.
According to several sources King Tuheitia turned up to a meeting of the tribe's parliament, Te Kauhanganui, on Sunday and in a surprise move delivered an emotional speech.
The sources said during his speech the king blasted Te Kauhanganui members for questioning his use of tribal funds, which he called "his money", and the appointment of John "Barna" Heremia and Taitimu Maipi as the directors of the company which receives money from the tribe to operate his office.
The company, Ururangi Ltd, receives an annual budget of $1.2 million for the office and the appointments had been criticised after it was revealed that Mr Heremia and Mr Maipi were the two men at the helm of a Huntly kura kaupapa singled out by the auditor-general for making $400,000 in undeclared payments to its principal.
Mr Heremia is the principal of the school and Mr Maipi is the chairman of the board of trustees.
One of the sources said King Tuheitia spoke for about 20 minutes and it was clear that he was frustrated and angry.
"He wants control of his office without any question. He blames Te Kauhanganui for the issues that have been raised and he is embarrassed by Te Kauhanganui and just wants to do it his way.
"He wants it all to stop and basically said that if this doesn't happen he would step down from being the paramount chief of this tribe and the Maori king."
The source said several members of Te Kauhanganui were sympathetic to the king, with many saying they felt sorry for him that he felt he had to make such a speech.
Attempts by the Waikato Times to contact the king's office and board chairman Tukoroirangi Morgan for comment went unanswered.
King Tuheitia is the seventh Maori monarch and is a direct descendant of the first Maori King, Potatau, who was elected by several iwi to unite Maori. The Waikato-Tainui tribe has been the caretaker of the Kingitanga movement for more than 150 years.
Another source said King Tuheitia also demanded that the tribe put a stop to attacks on the executive board, Te Arataura.
"He called it his board and said that the tribe was to stop their attacks on his board."
The source said he believed, though, that the board should be working on behalf of the tribe.
The board has been criticised by some tribal members following its decision to incur significant legal fees defending a claim of unfair dismissal by chief executive Hemi Rau, approval of a $100,000 success fee paid to each negotiator of the Waikato River claim and a continuing rise in the cost of governance. The board comprises 10 people elected from Te Kauhanganui and one member elected by the king.
Acknowledgements: Waikato Times, Stuff nz.co.nz