The Government has released its Foreshore and Seabed policy. It will put the F&S into ‘public domain’ where it will be owned by no one. Maori will be able to take claims for customary rights over parts of the F&S to Court (except those parts that are already owned by private, Pakeha, interests of course).
The irony is that this is pretty much what Labour proposed back in 2003 – that the Foreshore and Seabed be held ‘in the commons’ and National attacked that as a PC legal nonsense.
Just last month it was revealed that this was the ‘elegant solution’ that John Key was negotiating with the secretive ‘Iwi Leadership group’. Tariana Turia rejected this option because it essentially doesn’t change the status quo. Under the current law, Maori can negotiate with the Crown for recognition of customary rights, now they’ll be able to do that via the court system as well.
Last month, Hone Harawira explicitly ruled out following such a path, took some digs at the Iwi Leadership Group, and said he had his party’s backing to push for a satisfactory solution, which he was clear has always been full ownership. Here are the three principles that Harawira said had been agreed by his party for the F&S:
1. Maori Title: If government can assume ownership of the FSSB with one piece of legislation, they can just as easily give it back to Maori with another. That will put an immediate end to all the anxiety and angst and anguish from the past, and the decades of discord that will surely await us in the future, in we don’t act honourably now.
2. Inalienability: In the same legislation, include a clause ensuring that Maori can never sell the Foreshore and Seabed. That fits with the Maori world view that we don’t own land as a commodity, but rather we hold it as a taonga for future generations. It will also put an end to all that rubbish about Maori only wanting it so we can sell it.
3. Full Access: Again, in the same legislation, guarantee full access to all New Zealanders, because in the same way that Maori don’t want it to keep it for ourselves, neither do we want it to keep Pakeha out. As kaitiaki, we must be able to set limits on access to protect seafood stocks, promote conservation, and control behaviour, but granting access to Kiwis is an easy deal.
But that was then. Now, Turia is already laying the groundwork for a humiliating back down:
“I encourage our people, who might be struggling with those proposals, to seek guidance from their hapu, to return home to those hapu who have, for generation after generation, cared for te takutai moana on behalf of us all. Our priority is repeal – we promised our people we’d get it so that’s our main objective. Beyond repeal is to get the best deal for our mokopuna,”
Notice how it’s no longer about getting ownership rights recognised. Turia is pretending it was always simply a technocratic issue about repealing an Act, even if the replacement regime is largely the same in effect.
Turia is going to chicken out on the issue that created her party. As we’ve been predicting all along. I guess anything it’s all pretty much the same either way from the back of a Crown limo.