Kaipara Community Fight for Karakia Tradition After Mayor's Ban
Kaipara councillor for Wairoa Eryn Wilson-Collins is the latest to ensure the 25 year council tradition of opening with karakia is upheld.
This comes after mayor Craig Jepson unilaterally banned karakia in November. After facing public backlash, Jepson instilled a rotating system where councillors can choose to open the meeting in the way they wish.
This watering down of tikanga was rejected by local iwi and hapū.
Since then however, the karakia tradition has been upheld by councillors and members of the public.
In November, Māori ward councillor Ihapera Paniora offered karakia after Jepson rudely shut her down earlier in the meeting.
In December, Councillor Ash Nayyer for Wairoa used his opening reflection to give karakia after facing one of the biggest protests in Dargaville’s history.
In February, member of the public Pere Huriwai-Seger stood up to offer karakia after Jepson opened the meeting with an intentionally provocative quote which implied that opening with karakia was ‘preferential treatment’:
"When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination,” Jepson quoted Thomas Sowell, whom he referred to as “black economist”.
In the latest meeting, Eryn Wilson-Collins opened with ‘kia hora te marino’., which calls for calm and peace.
This was followed by a presentation from a member of the public on why the tradition needs to be reinstated. “When you take away the only part of te ao Māori from the council, it looks like you’re trying to erase te ao Māori all together,” Samah Huriwai-Seger said.
The community of Kaipara will continue to show solidarity with tangata whenua in seeking to return the beautiful karakia tradition. Next council meeting: 26 April, 9.30am at 2c Molesworth Drive, Mangawhai.