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Crown ownership by any other name would smell as bad

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, September 6th, 2010 - 12 comments
Categories: foreshore and seabed, nz first, spin - Tags:

Unnoticed amongst all the earthquake coverage was a small article in the Weekend Dompost on the foreshore and seabed deal. Apparently, ‘public domain’ will no longer appear in the new legislation. Instead, we’ll have a new name, possibly ‘takutaimoana’, Te Reo for ‘seabed’. That sound you can hear Winston Peters is rubbing his hands with glee.

National’s foreshore and seabed deal is essentially a restatement of Labour’s. It has some interesting changes (such as veto rights) that may well end up having some far-ranging consequences but iwi are still prevented from re-obtaining ownership of land that was taken from them and the test to get any rights recognised remains high.

I have always said that the only just solution is to treat the foreshore and seabed the same as any other land dispute (you don’t even have to rely on the Treaty). If someone or an organisation owned land and they were then deprived of that ownership illegally then redress is due. It might not always be practical to return land if that would result in new injustices on people who have invested in that land in good faith since the theft would themselves be deprived of property but those issues can be settled through negotiation just as with other land settlements.

Neither National nor Labour want to go there because, for some reason, they have let the foreshore and seabed take on a mythical quality – handing back hundreds of thousands of acres of forest is fine but the thought of ‘the beaches’ being returned gets people in a tizzy.

So, National just went for essentially a renaming of Labour’s law. ‘Crown’ became ‘public’, ‘ownership’ became ‘domain’ – no difference in reality. And no new name will change the substance either.

But it might matter symbolically. Especially if a Maori name is used. That would kick the backlash from conservatives/rednecks up to a whole new level. ACT and New Zealand First are likely to be the only parties opposing this new law as being too generous. I reckon we’ll see New Zealand First start to poll over 5% in the coming months.

12 comments on “Crown ownership by any other name would smell as bad”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    but iwi are still prevented from re-obtaining ownership of land that was taken from them

    It wasn’t taken from them because they didn’t have it (The seabed). They probably have some claim to the foreshore and negotiations should apply to that.

    BTW, can you please stop conflating the two as you do in this article (most notably in the above quoted sentence)? They are distinctly different.

  2. Lew 2

    DTB,

    It wasn’t taken from them because they didn’t have it (The seabed).

    They did. I’ve schooled you on this before, try to keep up. It’s also covered very clearly in the Foreshore & Seabed Review Panel report, which clearly you haven’t read. Marty is dead right to conflate them because, in terms of traditional practice, there’s almost no distinction.

    The rest of his reasoning is pretty much dead right as well, with the caveat that these changes could prove to be more than cosmetic (though it is a faint hope) and even if only cosmetic, have at least been agreed as a result of meaningful consultation (with the Iwi Leadership Group, most notably).

    L

    • Akldnut 2.1

      DTB I believe this issue went through the courts in 1870 – 80 (or there abouts) where gold miners wanted to tunnel from Thames (Grahamstown) under the foreshore into the Hauraki gulf (firth of Thames).
      Ngati Maru the local iwi said said no because the foreshore and seabed belonged to them, this was upheld by the courts of the day. The Govt (I believe) stepped in and did some swift negotiating on behalf of the European miners and they had to pay by the ton for any gold removed. Which turned out to be bugger all but it was the first foreshore case in NZ, upheld then and subsequently by the courts. But our govt is based on the English version so subsequent govts have asserted riparian rights. The problem being that this was never the case in NZ, our education system failed to teach us this and as a result many are astonished that find that Maori own the lake beds, seabed and foreshore when for generations it was believed the govt owned them.

  3. Jim Nald 3

    Sounds like John Key and his team opted to access Labour’s legislation on Word and used ‘find and replace’ ?

    Easy peasy whoopdeedoo !

  4. Rex Widerstrom 4

    Let’s hope Chris Finlayson does a good job of emphasising this is all about semantics then.

    Presumably this is at the urging of the Maori Party? Can’t someone have a word with them and warn them that a symbolic victory might open the way to a resurgence of a party which would aim to thwart everyhting they stand for?!

  5. Jenny 5

    ————————–

    From: Tere Harrison
    Date: Thu, 02 Sep 2010 20:48:49 +1200
    Subject: Dayle Takitimu – Open Letter to the Maori Party

    Dear Maori Party,

    The unilateral opening up of our ancestral lands and seas to drilling and
    mining by this Government is the most significant threat to the survival of
    our peoples and our way of life we have experienced in this generation.
    Whilst the foreshore and seabed issue, which essentially conceived the Maori
    Party, was essentially about conceptual ownership of the coastal marine
    space the granting of permits and exclusive prospecting licences is a real
    and tangible threat to the livelihood of our people throughout the
    country.

    For those iwi that want drilling and prospecting kei te pai, thats their
    decision. For those of us who do not, and who are concerned about the
    environmental impacts of these activities on our tribal territories who
    are concerned about our mokopuna and the crazy risks the Government are
    taking with our whenua and moana (and illegal because they unjustifiably
    breach the Treaty of Waitangi) we have a long, hard political fight ahead of
    us.

    We are trying to get information flowing between iwi, trying to lobby
    politically, trying to get accurate information into the public domain and
    trying to throw everything we can at the government in terms of legal or
    civil action. Its a hard fight, but we have an obligation to our mokopuna to
    do it these activities are so far removed from our worldview they are
    dangerous and they are about exploitation beyond our means (and beyond the
    means of future generations).

    The big question is in light of this the struggle where are the Maori
    Party?

    Why haven¹t we heard from you?

    Why are you silent at a time Maoridom needs you most? In the corridors in
    Wellington,

    Why can¹t we hear you advocating for us?

    Why can¹t we see you in the media?

    Where are you?

    What do we need to do to be on your radar?

    Is being Maori and being a Treaty partner with an issue not enough?

    Apart from one media message on 3 June 2010 by Ururoa, and attendance at our
    Taumata Korero in Auckland by Hone in August we have heard NOTHING from the
    Maori Party; where are you?

    Major submissions were due today on the draft Energy Strategy which proposes
    more drilling and more mining. We pushed and pushed our populations to make
    submissions, and we had to rely on mainstream organisations to help us with
    analysis and templates where were you?

    Whanau ora is choice; but what about the wellbeing of our mokopuna when
    their whenua is too barren to grow kai?, when their moana is so polluted
    they can¹t get a koura?, when their ancestral whenua has been raped and
    plundered so much their whanau has no oranga what then?

    What do you need from us to step up to this issue and make some noise on our
    behalf? We can hear the Greens, loud and clear. We can¹t hear you.

    Ko te inoi atu kia akoutou, me kaua koutou e noho wahangu i runga i tenei
    kaupapa; he whakahirahira rawa atu tenei ki a tatou.

    Dayle Takitimu
    Lawyer, Te Whanau a Apanui

    • Jenny 5.1

      Is the Maori Party Confidence and Supply Agreement with National approaching it’s use by date?

      In my opinion Tere Harrison’s open letter to the Maori party represents the start of a fight for the soul of the Maori Party. For them to ignore it, will be at risk of eternal (political)damnation.

      In my opinion the Maori party is now being constrained in its full advocacy on behalf of their constituents by its tactical coalition with the right wing National Party.

      Both of the two Maori Party MPs mentioned by name in Tere Harrison’s letter, Te Uroa Flavell and Hone Harawira have expressed in public, sentiment’s that the coalition agreement is only valid up to the 2011 elections.

      Any followers of my comments on this blogsite would be aware I support the present tactical accomodation of the Maori Party with the National Government.

      In my opinion this was a brilliant and unexpected tactical move by the Maori Party. This tactical move dumbfounded their opponents inside both of the two major parliamentary parties who sought to ignore and belittle their contribution and keep them away from the levers of power, pushing them into the parliamentary sidelines.

      For the Maori Party to have succumbed to being sidelined in this way would have meant giving up any hope of having any independent influence in the house, which would have meant ignoring the mandate of the many Maori who supported them into parliament.

      This tactical accomodation no matter how necessary, comes with a cost. The Maori Party leadership are fully aware that a second term of coalition with this right wing tory government will see the destruction of their party.

      In my opinion this would be a sad loss, to the detriment of our unique parliamentary system.

      In my opinion the loss of the Maori Party from our political landscape, would be a loss not just felt by, Maori, but Pakeha, Manuhiri, all. Only the most dyed in the wool bigot, or one eyed sectarian would try and deny that the Maori Party have made positive and worthwhile contributions to parliament.

      The Maori Party’s tactical coalition with National, if carried beyond the first term will see the destruction of the Maori Party.

      No serious commentator of politics would deny this.

      The question is are the Maori Party MPs willing to pay this price?

      Are any Maori Party MPs preparing to follow in the footsteps of a La Jim Anderton or Tau Henare to see the destruction of their party and sit out their careers on the back benches of one or the other of the two major political parties?

      • Lew 5.1.1

        Jenny, bang on.

        L

      • Jenny 5.1.2

        .
        It is becoming very clear that with the detonation inside the ACT Party, the Maori Party if it can stay together has the potential to be King Maker after the 2011 parliamentary election.

        If the Labour Party are serious about contesting this election with the aim of recovering the Treasury Benches from the Nats then they must start lobbying the Maori Party with the purpose of seeking an accommodation that best serves the interests of their core constituencies.

        On current polling this is the only way to ensure a Labour led government is returned to parliament in 2011.

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