The Waitangi Tribunal's controversial voting scheme on the Whakatohea Treaty settlement mandate continues into a third week of polling beset by legal and ballot problems that threaten to derail the government-funded attempt to get the Iwi to take a $100m deal. The government-mandated private trust is said to be running the election and Hapu claimants say questions of authorisation, transparency and independence are not being answered.
"Ngai Tamahaua Hapu and claimants can have no confidence in this irregular scenario where the government-orchestrated process is not fair, free or open. In these circumstances it seems inevitable that the results will be contested and the conclusion will be dubious" said Hapu Chair Peter T Selwyn.
Ngai Tamahaua Hapu have released a table of the complex voting matrix behind the novel voting scheme. The Tribunal's presiding officer in the case - Maori Land Court Judge and former Crown Law consultant, Michael Doogan - came up with the three stage either/and/or formulation during an inquiry into the mandate and has not waivered since despite much criticism of its workability and legitimacy. The Doogan plan has 252 cells: being columns for two answers to the three questions from two sets of three different sources in rows for 7 Hapu.
Mr Selwyn says: "Doogan's number is far above the average capacity for relational comprehension (often referred to as "Dunbar's number" of 150) and is a minefield of unverifiable data. The government cannot be trusted to read the tea leaves of such unreliable statistics. The thing is an overly-complicated mess with questions designed to give the pre-settlement trust three bites of the cherry."
"Protecting the integrity of Ngai Tamahaua mana motuhake means the only safe answer is to stay out of the scheme" says Mr Selwyn: "Ngai Tamahaua has had a clear position of opposition to the mandate from the outset and the Tribunal recognised that the Hapu had easily exceeded the 5% mandate withdrawal threshhold with our petition. Our position is we demand of the Tribunal a full district inquiry of historical breaches of the Treaty. This means the Hapu do not need to be included in the voting scheme. We haven't received the assurances we need from the election company or the Tribunal-appointed facilitator that we can properly scrutineer the count or verify the disputed ballots. The best option for those Ngai Tamahaua uri wanting to vote now is to cast a special vote."
The Hapu will submit an alternative matrix to be excluded from Doogan's scheme - as attached. The Ngai Tamahaua exclusion will reduce the Doogan number to 216.