Dargaville hikoi planned for Wednesday protesting Kaipara mayor's karakia ban

Kaipara's North Head Lighthouse

The Kaipara District mayor's ban on karakia has prompted the Kaipara community to organise a hīkoi or march for the following week.

Mayor Craig Jepson stopped new Maori ward councillor Pera Paniora from saying a karakia at the start of a council meeting last week.

Later, he told 1News he wanted to lead a council that was secular, inclusive, and treated everyone equally.

He got a strong reaction from Dame Naida Glavish who told she intends to meet embattled Jepson this week to discuss his refusal of karakia.

The Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara chair says the mayor’s response to new councillor Pera Paniora’s requestis putting the council’s relationship with the iwi at risk.

Jepson campaigned on a platform of anti-co governance and led the opposition to his council introducing Māori wards ahead of this year's local body elections.

Hikoi on Wednesday

Glavish is calling for Jepson to step down as mayor, saying he isn’t the right person to advocate and deliver for the people of Kaipara.

The hikoi will be held in Dargaville, where protestors want to voice their disapproval when the council meeting starts at 9.30am.

Dinnie Moeahu, a district councillor for New Plymouth, said the prohibition was entirely inappropriate.

"It's part of who we are as a people. It's our culture, it's not a religion. It's not something that's attached to it, it's just who we are," he said.

"We are in 2022, it's time to walk alongside each other and move on and also respect each other's differences, that's how we move forward together, it's not going back into the dark ages."

Rohan O'Neill-Stevens, the deputy mayor of Nelson, wished to remind the mayor of Kaipara whose land the council buildings were built on.

"The whenua that council meetings are being held on was originally Māori, iwi and hapū whenua. I think anything we can do to acknowledge that, but also to bring in this beautiful cultural aspect that make Aotearoa, Aotearoa, is a good thing."