By Seni Iasona of Newshub
The Kaipara District Council’s first meeting since the local election has kicked off with a bit of verbal biffo between the mayor and a Māori ward councillor.
Just minutes into the council’s first meeting, councillor Pera Paniora, of Te Moanaui o Kaipara Māori Ward, wanted to begin the meeting with a karakia.
“Excuse me, just before we start, through the chair may I say the karakia?”
Newly elected Kaipara Mayor Craig Jepson was quick to shut down Paniora’s request, arguing she “cannot interrupt, I’m sorry”.
But Paniora hit back, telling the mayor “it is tikanga to start a meeting with a karakia”.
Mayor Jepson then gave an explanation as to why he wouldn’t allow the karakia to go ahead.
“This is a council that’s full of people who are non-religious, religious, of different ethnicities and I intend to run a secular council here which respects everybody and I will not be veering from that. Thank you.”
But Paniora countered Jepson’s explanation saying: “I don’t agree with that.”
“Sorry you cannot interject,” Jepson struck back.
Jepson made an effort to move on to the next matter on the council’s agenda: “can I have apologies please”.
But councillor Paniora tried to explain her request to mayor Jepson.
“Excuse me for those who do practice…”
Before Paniora could finish her sentence Jepson shut the councillor down again.
“Councillor Paniora, you are not allowed to speak in this manner and we will continue with our meeting.”
“It doesn’t really feel like a meeting,” said another councillor.
Twenty minutes later Paniora gave her maiden speech to the council where she said the karakia and sang Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi.
“Seen as I wasn’t able to do the karakia this morning, it’s better late than never.”
Newshub has contacted Paniora and Jepson for comment.
*This story was originally published by Newshub.