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CI Times Weekly | Current Issue 256 | 23 June 2008

Majority rules in House of Ariki

Those who support the status quo are Pa Ariki (Takitumu), Tamatoa Ariki (Aitutaki), Tou Travel Ariki (Mitiaro), Ngamaru Ariki (Atiu) and Manarangi Ariki (Aitutaki).
Those who have formally rescinded their support of the Proclamation are Ada Rongomatane (Atiu), Temaeu Ariki (Mitiaro), Tetava Ariki (Mitiaro) and Mere Macquarie (Te Au o Tonga). Tinomana Ariki was at the Wednesday but not at the deliberations on Thursday or Friday.
This is a favourable outcome for the Government but it took four sessions where the House vigorously debated the issues that lay behind the Proclamation by the Ui Ariki at Taputapuatea on 16 June.
Those still undecided are Tararo Ariki (Mauke), Kainuku Ariki (Takitumu) and Vaeruarangi Ariki (Aitutaki) who said the Government had not cared for the Arikis and the Proclamation would return the Ariki to their rightful turanga. Makea Karika Ariki (Te Au o Tonga) gave in at her children’s request but Vakatini Ariki is out.
Nevertheless the Minister of the House of Ariki, Sir Terepai Maoate accepted the majority decision and told the House that enquiries from overseas were asking whether the country was in the middle of a crisis and whether it was safe to come to the country and asked for peace and unity within the House of Ariki and to project a positive portrayal of our country to the world.
The inside story at the meetings
When the House of Ariki was summoned to a meeting, it seems the officials were expecting them to come back to the fold without a murmur but it was not that simple.
The officials adopted a conciliatory approach and told the Paramount Chiefs the y were there to provide a ‘helping hand’ and although there had been news reports here and overseas, they wanted to hear directly from the Ui Ariki what is troubling them.
The Clerk said the Arikis were to have no fear in speaking their mind in the House because they protected by the law of the country (referring to absolute privilege within the House of Ariki similar to Parliamentary privilege) and if there is a problem, to please tell him and he will convey it to Parliament and they will ‘try and put it right’.
Assuming the Government really wanted to know what is troubling them, members of the Ui Ariki responded by voicing their grievances.
Vakatini Ariki told the House his views were already known in the Proclamation and walked out in protest. At the evening session of the House, Vakatini expressed his resentment at those who had rescinded their support reminding them it was their idea to make him the arataki to deliver the message for the Ui Ariki. He said it was the very same Ariki who had tearfully begged him to take the message to the country who were now abandoning him.
Tou Travel Ariki said he now understood the reasons the Ui Ariki did what they did and it may serve to ‘wake up the government to look again at the Ui Ariki’ and to consider how they are treating them.
Makea Karika Ariki (Te Au o Tonga) defended her position and told the House her reasons for supporting the actions of the Ui Ariki. She said she held her Ariki taonga for 59 years and recalled the old days when the high status of the Ariki was acknowledged but nowadays the PM and DPM go ahead and the Ui Ariki are left in their wake. Her lands was given for the benefit of the people but Government is profiting from lands no longer needed for public purposes.such as the Banana Court where businesses pay rentals to the Government when that income by rights should be paid to the Atu Enua.
She said the family has been patient for a long time with Government who claim they needed to pay their debts and refuse to release the land claiming it as ‘crown land’. She gave other examples and asked whether Government’s attitude is fair?
Mama Karika said she originally intended to walk out in support of Vakatini but on hearing the invitation to speak up, she decided to air her views in the House. However, by the fourth meeting, Mama Karika had reluctantly backed down at the request of her children but not of her own accord.
Tararo Ariki and Vaeruarangi Ariki said they would remain loyal to the Ui Ariki who signed the Proclamation. Vaeruarangi repeated his view that the Government had not cared for the Arikis and the Proclamation would return the Ariki to their rightful turanga. He said he does not support the ‘ture o te komoni’ and had ‘done his research’ into the ‘Turanga Ariki’ and the Government had not respected their position ‘kare e tatou aka ngateitei’.
Asking the Ui Ariki to cast their mind back to history as to ‘who was the first government?’ Was it not the Ui Ariki he said and it was they who had accepted the advent of the Gospel to our country and challenged Crown Law to explain the law of the land prior to the British Queen and her foreign laws being accepted.
He said the Arikis had been leaders ‘me Pokerekere’ and there were many reasons why he was not happy with the current laws of the land and was no longer willing to be under the ‘akatere’ of the Government.
Kainuku Ariki (Takitumu) said she was in a quandary because both sides of the debate had merit and she had thought the Proclamation would have great benefits and be good for ‘toku iti tangata’. She said there were a lot of issues not being addressed and sees it was ‘waking us up to everything that has happened’ and believes she is acting in the best interests of her ‘iti tangata’. Tetava Poitirere Ariki (Mitiaro) said there is a problem with the government and he did not want to fall into something that will lead him into strife.
The Clerk seemed at a loss at the barrage of criticism of Government and told the House they had thought proceedings would be brief and was not interested in hearing the views of the Ariki as to their problems.
However, by the end of the evening session and more frank discussions, the Ui Ariki had won some understanding of their position with officials noting there were some genuine concerns about land issues, including the retention lands no longer used for public purposes and of mana and standing in the community.
The House of Ariki will meet again in July.

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Headlines : Times 230 10 December 2007
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Headlines : Times 223 22 October 2007
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Headlines : Times 221 08 October 2007
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Headlines : Times 220 30 September 2007
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