National | Haka

Judges speak out over Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau motel saga

A Northland motelier is standing by her claims she evicted up to fifteen people including judges following the Te Tai Tokerau Secondary Schools Kapa Haka Regionals early Sunday morning.

However, a statement released on behalf of the judges says the majority did not stay at Sierra but returned instead to their respective homes.

The owners say security camera footage confirms five judges exiting after being asked to leave the premises.  However, the owner says the onus should in no way rest upon the judges as a whole.

"Not all of the people there were judges, in saying that, there were some judges there.  So for the judges that weren't there that this has caused any inconvenience, any embarrassment and any loss of mana- I do apologise for that," says the owner of Motel Sierra, Kath Organ.

A written press release was issued by the Judges Collective of Tōkihi ki Tua at 10:30pm last night responding to the claims made by the owners of Motel Sierra.

Spokesperson for the Tōkihi ki Tua judges collective, Eli Smith says, "This is to clear the judges who were not present of any wrongdoing.  Yes, there were some present- but we just come back to interact, to sit and talk- and we were caught in the middle."

Te Ao contacted the owners of Motel Sierra regarding the issue.

In the judge's press statement, they said they "acknowledged this is a very serious issue and under no circumstances do we condone behaviour of that nature."

"It is correct that in that room were 15 people- that is correct.  It is also correct that some of those people were judges - that is correct.  But when the lady asked and insisted we leave- we left," says Smith.

Te Ao can reveal that Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau have made a formal apology to the owners "over the afflictions" caused on Sunday morning.  A hand-delivered letter from the organising committee confirming those remaining after being asked to leave were from the committee instead.

"The apology came from the head of the committee from Te Tai Tokerau and it was a written apology saying that there was an incident, but asking me to retract my statements" says Organ.

Media today were directed to engage with the chair of Te Tai Tokerau Secondary Schools' Principals Association, Mina Pomare-Peita over the matter.

The collective of judges have made their stance known- that through truth comes understanding.

"This discussion has gone to the world with nationwide allegations that the judges alone are at fault.  That is wrong.  We left on good terms and correct procedures were followed," says Smith.

An urgent hui has been called between judges and Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau.

A date is yet to be decided upon.