King Tuheitia arranged the recent water hui, where in the closing speech he expressed strong views on water ownership. According to NZ Herald (in Iwi tries to fix split on water) this was a major change:
What is not in doubt is that there has been a sharp evolution of the Kingitanga. In the past, spokesmen have been the voice of the movement – in part to protect the monarch from direct criticism.
King Tuheitia’s speech to 1000 Maori on such a charged issue changed that.
Since the hui there have been obvious differences amongst Maori – different views and different approaches to dealing with the water issue. The King’s spokesman is trying to enforce unity:
King Tuheitia’s spokesman Tuku Morgan is emphatic that all iwi leaders must stick to resolutions passed at the King’s water summit, which include working out a framework for water rights before iwi negotiate with the Crown.
Immediately after the hui this month, Mr Morgan said: “The A list of Maoridom were here, the who’s who of Maoridom were here – they are part of the decision and they are bound by the decision.”
This seems to be an attempt to change the way Maori do things, and there has been resistance to this.
But Tom Roa, who is chairman of the tribe’s executive board Te Arataura and on the Iwi Leaders Group for Freshwater, says the King’s “strong” position on water – that Maori own it – also reflected respect towards the individual right of iwi to go back to their people to weigh the resolutions.
“From my perspective … every iwi and every hapu has their right to their autonomy and that includes Waikato-Tainui.
“The New Zealand Maori Council will not negotiate on Waikato-Tainui’s behalf. Nor will any group. That’s our plain position and I suggest that’s the position of every iwi and hapu in the country.”
It now seems apparent that the water hui was an attempt to promote a specific view on water rights (the King’s view) and to get all Maori to join in and follow the King’s initiative.
If Waikato-Tainui won’t give up their autonomy and follow the (Waikato based) King there’s little chance of more distant iwi becoming subjects of the King.