Council cops a backlash
A backlash against the decision of a District Council code of conduct review board in Gisborne has started.
District councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown has declined to accept an apology and plans are under way separately for a “GDC stop protecting racism rally”.
Mrs Akuhata-Brown is not happy with an apology received from the councillor who allegedly made a remark about the number of Maori killed by crew members of HMS Endeavour and says she will stand her ground.
She confirmed today the apology was made at a meeting between her, acting mayor Rehette Stoltz and the other councillor in the week before the council meeting last Thursday, at which the issue was discussed with the public excluded.
But the apology was a “backhanded one” because the councillor did not admit to making the remark, she said.
It was confusing.
She and the other councillor left the council meeting before the decision was made on the code of conduct issue.
“I am not prepared to let this go away,” she said.
If the statement she has made that she is not happy with the apology leads to another code of conduct action, she says she will “wear it”.
It was not fair that the threat of a defamation action meant that the councillor who made the comment could not be named, she said.
At the council meeting she used her favourite quotation from the Bible from Micah 6-8, “what does the Lord require of you, to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with your God”.
She had people approach her in the street to support her, patting her and saying kia kaha, she said.
As a Kaiti second-generation New Zealander with Welsh, English, Scottish and Maori heritage, she believes she is the right person to take this up.
It was unfortunate that an attitude that remarks like this could be made continued to exist in this century.
For that reason, she believes it is important that the coming 250th celebrations of the first encounter between Maori and the crew of the Endeavour tell the whole story — the good, the bad and the ugly.
The 'GDC stop protecting racism rally'Six people here have called a protest.
The “GDC stop protecting racism rally” will be held on the day of the next council meeting, Thursday, September 27.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is also expected to be in Gisborne that day.
Hosted by Manu Caddie, Kerry Haraki, Laurie Holmes, Te Hamua Nikora, Tina Ngata, Clare Robinson and Michael Hollis, the protest march will start at 8am at the Gisborne police station and head to the council building.
The protest is being advertised through social media.
Organisers say in a statement about the protest that at least two elected members of Gisborne District Council are alleged to have been involved in the code of conduct review.
“Disclosure of the incident by Councillor Meredith Akuhata-Brown resulted in her being investigated and probably sanctioned, but the alleged culprits have not owned up and have not been held responsible for their actions,” they say.
“The outcome of the investigation has brought the council into disrepute and we won’t be quiet until those responsible are held accountable.
“The plan is to meet at Gisborne police station at 8am to provide a statement of a crime that has been committed under the Human Rights Act s61(1)(b), then at 8.30am to march to Gisborne District Council in Fitzherbert Street with police to take them to the scene of the crime so they can interview witnesses and potential suspects,” the protest statement says.
Code of conduct board chairwoman, deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz, has confirmed the third councillor in the investigation was the councillor towards whom the remark was claimed to have been made.
Mrs Stoltz and Mrs Akuhata-Brown did not meet today to discuss the latest developments, as was reported would happen in The Gisborne Herald and on Radio New Zealand.