The Kermadecs and racist environmentalism

Written By: - Date published: 6:14 pm, September 18th, 2016 - 154 comments
Categories: Conservation, foreshore and seabed, Maori Issues - Tags: , ,

Originally posted at Boots Theory.

I did a bit of a tweetstorm earlier today, inspired by seeing friends embroiled in frustrating conversations like this one and the decided slant of articles like this about the proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

My thoughts resonated with a bunch of people, so here they are in post form, but I’m going to stick up at the front something which I tweeted late in the piece: I’m just a Pākehā woman with a Twitter account and a reflexive critical analysis of political discourse. I’m not an expert in this area. I refer you to far wiser people like Morgan Godfery and the reportage of folk like Maiki Sherman at Newshub.

So. This week has been a revelation in the racist imperialism of mainstream (white) environmental organisations.

We’re not even arguing about meaningful consultation around establishing the Kermadec sanctuary, we’re talking about ZERO consultation by white politicians who assumed they knew best. National are literally in coalition with the Māori Party but didn’t even pick up the phone to give them a heads-up, probably because like every other Pākehā handwringer they just assumed they knew best about whether there’d be an issue.

That’s problem 1: Pākehā assuming they know everything about a complex historical/legal issue which gets really shallow coverage in the media and frequently is only lightly discussed in school, if ever.

Problem 2 is the (very Pākehā) environment lobby’s outrage that anyone might stand in the way of an ocean sanctuary. “Think of the planet!” they cry, which is appallingly arrogant coming from the ethnic group which has done the vast majority of screwing up the planet to start with.

But no, now we know better so let’s do things our way, it’s for the greater good after all!

This also brings in the horrible racist undertones of the Pākehā worldview being more ~sophisticated~ than Māori.

We have to take a hard look at how environmental organisations and Pākehā liberalism exploit indigenous culture. When it suits us, we happily draw on the notion of indigenous people being ~more in touch with the land~ and having a ~spiritual connection to nature~ and painting with all the goddamned colours of the wind. When it helps our agenda, we happily retweet the hashtags opposing oil pipelines and trumpet the importance of honouring the Treaty.

But scratch the surface and all the smug superiority is there. We know better; our thinking is more advanced because we care about ~the whole planet~.

It’s very easy to care about the whole planet when you’re on the team who took it by force.

The third problem I came to is broader than the current debate: it’s the hate-on Pākehā have for the idea that Māori dare to operate in a capitalist framework. Like, we came here, smashed their culture, took their land, tried to destroy their language, imposed capitalism on them, and when we offer a pittance in compensation for what they have lost, we get OUTRAGED when they set up “modern” business structures with it.

Do people have justified concerns about the decisions and operating practices of some Māori corporations? Probably. There are issues with every capitalist construct run for profit. But we treat Māori ones very differently – we treat everything Māori do differently (remember the foreshore and seabed? Remember how nobody seemed to have a problem with rich white people owning whole beaches and islands, but the idea of Māori just having the right to test ownership in court was the end of the world?)

We’ve put Māori in a catch-22: imposing Pākehā capitalism on them, but acting appalled whenever they dare use it to survive.

So this is how it goes. Pākehā make a decision to eradicate fishing rights without consulting Māori, because we know better. Then we decry them for not caring about the environment – which we stole from them and exploited for over a century – and imply they only care about money – which is a good thing if you’re in business but not if you’re brown.

And so we pat ourselves on the back for being More Enlightened About The Environment while literally confiscating land & resources from Māori again.


A tangent on industrialization, climate change and the environment: let’s consider how all the “first world” “developed” nations got to where they are – by pillaging and strip-mining every piece of the planet we could get our hands on – but now we’ve hoarded all the money and resources and built “sophisticated” economies, suddenly we want to scold “less developed” nations for doing exactly the same thing.

Blade Runner and The Fifth Element knew exactly what they were doing when they showed the working classes living beneath the smog layer, is what I’m saying.

154 comments on “The Kermadecs and racist environmentalism ”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    I can’t think of anything to add to this other than my 100% agreement. (just in case someone assumes silence is dissent).

    • jcuknz 1.2

      Reads like a load of hogwash to me… it is a sad day when a minority group question the government which they apparently support when it is handing out lollies but not when they set up a needed restriction on previously granted gifts.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.1

        Māori support the government? Citation needed.

        I note the racist thread woven into the fabric of your stated opinions. I doubt you can see it at all.

        • jcuknz

          Sure I am a racist who believes the government makes the decisions rightly or wrongly.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Except that isn’t the situation.

            Te Tiriti has international and domestic legal standing. Do you understand the difference between a “minority group” (National Party voters, for example) and one of the parties to a treaty between nations?

            Oh, and to clear up your misunderstanding, I described a “thread” as racist, not you, but please feel free to own the label personally if you prefer.

            • Gosman

              What international legal standing does it have?

            • srylands

              “Te Tiriti has international and domestic legal standing.”

              What do you mean by “international…legal standing”? It is not an international treaty, as it complies with none of the requirements of an international treaty under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ring any bells?

                • McFlock

                  that would be the “lalalalalalala!!!” sound that distracts him from reality…

                • Gosman

                  NZ had to ratify this. It wasn’t done so automatically as a result of the Treaty. It also makes no reference to the Treaty as far as I am aware.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Is that so?

                    So when deliberating on Treaty or other matters that affect indigenous rights, the courts won’t take it into account? Is that how it works Gosman?

                    I only ask because you have a well earned reputation for lying and your knowledge of the law doesn’t exist.

                    • Gosman

                      You seem to be of a misapprehension that those cases involve international law.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      By definition, treaties are between nations. So there’s that.

                      As for the individual cases, on Gosman, apparently, domestic legal decisions have no standing internationally. On Earth however, they inform international legal debate on a daily basis, including being cited in court.

                      As I said, your legal knowledge doesn’t exist, and I’d just like to add my personal contempt for you, as a deliberate insult.

                    • srylands

                      You are being childish.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      You are being a cynical bludger of taxpayers’ money, and yet the fact that the declaration is considered by the court in this case (not to mention New Zealand Maori Council vs. Attorney-General 2013) supports my assertion, whether or not it does yours.

      • Maori actually have a legal right to be consulted on changes like this under the Treaty principles, so it’s not just a case of Māori throwing their toys out of the sandbox as you might like to imagine, the government has actually breached its treaty obligations by failing to properly consult.

  2. I battled away on this yesterday. Good luck.

  3. Ad 3

    I do get your smog layer point. TOKM are reminding the government quite well that they exist above it.

    A useful counterfactual to National’s approach to the Kermadecs is the Treaty of Waitangi settlement outcome over Uruwera National Park. A fairly nuanced and trusting relationship about both title and management hammered out over a very long time.
    Not saying the grievance is the same, just that this current government has come up with novel governance arrangements that seem to do the same for conservation values. I do think National will get the agreement and get the legislation passed, but Smith needs to be removed from the table, and there will need to be a visible $$ payoff in the 2017 budget for the Maori Party for staying.

    I don’t personally mind the ‘when it suits us’ sense to joining between environmentalist and Maori commercial groups. Sometimes it suits to join, sometimes to oppose. That’s appropriate. Not racist, just tactical.

    Your last point I would probably recast as squarely Minister Smith and Prime Minister Key’s fault. TOKM are far more powerful than the Maori Party. They are their own force; different to National’s NGO base at Federated Farmers or Fonterra, and a planet that National as only National can, needs to bring them into similar orbit.

    • There’s nothing “novel” in the government’s approach on this. They announced a major decision affecting a Treaty settlement with zero consultation with the affected parties. Par for the course for European colonisers in New Zealander, really. No one can be surprised that now Māori have a (somewhat) larger voice in the public discourse, they’re raising hell about it.

      It is clear racism when Māori are expected to accept “full and final” Treaty settlements, the Government of the day unilaterally changes those settlements, and then all the white folk run around pontificating about “commercial interests” and “gifts to the planet” and “extinction of the moa”.

      • Ad 3.1.1

        A National Party with Doug Graham in it would have handled this far better.

        Quicker this comes off Smith’s desk and onto Minister Finlaysons’, the better it will be for fishing conservation, and for Maori fishing companies. It’s too big a conservation prize to be held up by poor negotiation.

      • miravox 3.1.2

        A bit ironic also that the undertone of ‘full and final’ bit was due to an Pākehā expectation that Māori would change their minds and say the settlement wasn’t adequate, or would mismanage the proceeds and have nothing left (because, you know, Māori). As is often the case, it’s Executive Power that’s breaking the terms of that ‘full and final’ bit with, so far, only a trickle of dissent from the dominant culture.

      • fisiani 3.1.3

        How does it affect a Treaty Settlement? The settlement allows Maori an agreed total catch. That does not change. Not by a single tonne and not by a single fish. No loss whatsoever.
        Maori can fill their quota in other parts of the sea without having free reign to pillage an ocean sanctuary.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Is a silly false dichotomy the best you can do? Not much of an argument is it? Prejudicial too.

          • fisiani

            Where is the false dichotomy? I ask again How does it affect a Treaty Settlement?

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              I suspect there are options other than “do nothing” and “free reign to pillage”.

              The answer to your second question is that it’s a loaded question. The treaty affects the decision, not the other way around.

              • fisiani

                You still do not get it. In what possible way does a Kermadec Sanctuary deny Maori a single fish less in their catchable quota. Nothing has been lost.

                • I’ll keep this simple, as you seem to struggle with abstract concepts. Look at it this way: you negotiate a contract with a landowner who has 1000 hectares of forest that you’re allowed to hunt a specific quota of animals in that 1000 hectares. All’s well until one day the landowner tells you he’s fenced off 100 acres, so you can only hunt in the remaining 900 hectares. You can still hunt the same number of animals, you just have a slightly smaller area to do it in. So, if you and the landowner are good mates you might feel a bit of annoyance at him unilaterally changing the terms of your contract like that, but he is a mate and you can still hunt the same number of animals, so maybe you’ll let him away with it. But, suppose you and this landowner are not good mates – suppose, in fact, that he’s fucked you over on many occasions and in varied ways, and this is just one more example. In that case, maybe you’d lawyer up and tell him you’re happy to hear his proposals for compensation.

                  • fisiani

                    Why would you feel annoyed using your metaphor when you have never entered that 100 acres and can still obtain all you would ever need in the other 900. This is just grandstanding, for some other reason.

                    • McFlock

                      I love how tories are all about contract law until it doesn’t suit them.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Since you don’t know the “other reason”, your statement that it is “grandstanding” has no value other than to demonstrate your rather brittle predetermination.

                      Has the National Party anyone who understands conflict of interest?

                  • Naki man

                    “In that case, maybe you’d lawyer up and tell him you’re happy to hear his proposals for compensation.”

                    Compensation for losses, well that would be a big fat $0

                • Scott

                  You are quite right, but if they think their quota would be devalued by the imposition of the sanctuary then surely they are entitled to compensation for that (morally rather than legally)? Same for other quota holders.

                  It may be that there is no loss in value at all (as you suggest and that does appear to be the case) but if they dispute that then a fair process would have seen that dispute resolved via arbitration or the like.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  You still do not get it. These attempts to confine the debate to your view won’t work: consultation means the other party has time to form a position and then you listen to them.

                  Otherwise you don’t even know what you’re arguing with. Which is sort of prejudicial, eh. So that’s an own goal prior to kick off.

                  • Scott

                    Oh I get it. You think I’m trying to confine the issue, and I think you are trying to make it about more than it is.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Can anyone explain to me why John Key announces the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary at the UN in Sept 2015, an announcement which got major news coverage here in NZ, yet National and the Maori Party have failed to pick up the phone to each other on this issue for the last 12 months, even as the MfE has continued to do very public work on it?

    As I said yesterday, I think this could be a case of National helping out the Maori Party creating an issue that the Maori Party can both “prove” their “independence” from National on and their ability to “stand up to” the National Government.

    • b waghorn 4.1

      I read somewhere yesterday (buggered if i know where but will look) some one calling key out for this being the same as his grandstanding around the pest free law/aspiration.

    • Ad 4.2

      By holding off the vote and deferring to the Maori Party, rather than pressing ahead and completing the Parliamentary vote with the Greens, National and Maori Party are re-pricing each other for the post-2017 coalition.

      Meantime if the negotiations get too hard, National will load all the blame on the Maori Party. About that time the Maori Party will realize, as the media piles in, that in elections it’s not the TOKM that vote.

      Hooten was right: Smith seriously needs to be replaced in Parliament.

      • As a side note… if the Greens vote through a sanctuary without properly consulting with Māori first, there will be a significant rebuke coming from the membership, as honouring the Treaty is one of the core principles of the Party. The Greens aren’t supposed to stand for a National Party-style “white person’s environmentalism,” even if some of their voters absolutely do believe in that.

    • alwyn 4.3

      “creating an issue “.
      You may very well be right.
      It could also cause one or more of the following reactions.
      1. Labour take a Maori leaning approach, oppose the sanctuary, and cause a split in the MOU between them and the Green Party. The Green Party can hardly oppose the sanctuary can they?
      2. Labour supports the sanctuary, which was in the policy for the last election, and whip their own Maori MPs into line, thereby showing that Labour don’t really provide any reason for Maori to vote for them.
      3. Alternatively the Labour Party supports the sanctuary and the Maori members of the Labour Party Caucus cross the floor and vote against it.
      Then you get the question of why the Maori members are remaining in the Labour Party at all.
      What do you think the Labour Party are going to do?
      They can hardly paraphrase Walter Nash when he said in 1951 “we are not for the waterside workers, and we are not against them”.

    • Leftie 4.4

      Yep, you may be onto something there Colonial Viper, I think this is a set up, and it’s another attempt by National and its Maori party to stay relevant and to hoodwink voters at the next election. IMO, I don’t think there is anything the Maori party can now do, after nearly 9 years, that will show it can stand up to and be independent from the Nats. I don’t trust the words and actions of the Maori party, just like I don’t trust the lying, deceitful Nats.

      • In Vino 4.4.1

        +1 Exactly- this is a planned scenario designed to make the Maori Party look good by standing up to their evil friends’ failure to consult them (probably pre-arranged…)

      • miravox 4.4.2

        It has also opened a chasm between social justice and environmental justice. People with any sense of either or both need to really think hard and quickly (before the framing is cemented by a gleeful PM) about the strong connections between the two and how they’re managing this injustice.

    • Molly 4.5

      The cynic in me – which grows bigger every day – agrees with this possibility.

      • dukeofurl 4.5.1

        Thats until you consider National had the Greens supporting the legislation and ACT opposing it !

        That canoe they used in advertising last election ( and M&Ms stolen music) looks like its had a change of crew ?

        Dont think so. When its Nick Smith its bound to be a stuff up.

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    I’m not sure this is a race/environmentalism issue – though the elements are available. Isn’t the Kermadecs a sanctuary already? The spotted groper were pretty much protected last I heard.

    And since when did the Gnats give a flying feck about environmentalism? More likely there is some commercial tradeoff slipped into the mix, so that if there is opposition the Gnats can claim environmental high ground. Rivers running with bullshit don’t trouble them, bogus carbon credits don’t trouble them, so the ‘Kermadec Sanctuary’ is unlikely to be their motive.

    Race? Probably never entered their empty heads.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    When it suits us, we happily draw on the notion of indigenous people being ~more in touch with the land~ and having a ~spiritual connection to nature~ and painting with all the goddamned colours of the wind.

    I don’t but that’s because I bothered to read the bloody history. There are some indigenous peoples that live closely to nature and look after the environment but the majority are really just like Pakeha in that they treated the environment as something that they didn’t need to care about.

    Remember how nobody seemed to have a problem with rich white people owning whole beaches and islands,

    No I don’t because the law has always been that private ownership stops at the high tide mark. For Māori to have more rights than that then they’d have to go from private ownership to government ownership.

    And the whole point of Te Tiriti was to ensure that there was only one government and one set of rules (yes, I do accept that Pakeha then proceeded to treat Māori under a different set of rules).

    A tangent on industrialization, climate change and the environment: let’s consider how all the “first world” “developed” nations got to where they are – by pillaging and strip-mining every piece of the planet we could get our hands on – but now we’ve hoarded all the money and resources and built “sophisticated” economies, suddenly we want to scold “less developed” nations for doing exactly the same thing.

    As much as I agree that Pakeha got to their prominent position through pillaging and controlling the wealth of the world is it really too much to ask that people today, of any race or creed, learn that lesson from that appalling history?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      the law has always been that private ownership stops at the high tide


      Always. Since the beginning of time.

      • dukeofurl 6.1.1

        Except when it didnt

        “However, from the mid-19th century, grants of land below the high water mark (including parts of the seabed) were made on the assumption that the Crown was the owner. This was particularly, but not universally, the case where it had bought adjoining dry land from Māori. A fee simple grant (permanent and absolute ownership) of the seabed under the Crown’s prerogative was made as early as 1845 during Robert FitzRoy’s governorship…. 1855 the Ngāti Whātua tribe demanded a rent for the use of a shellfish bed in the Kaipara Harbour. ..”

        • One Anonymous Bloke


          The Crown’s position has always been “there are more of us than there are of you so get lost”, because they (we) have no case. The only law going on here is of the jungle, not the courtroom.

          It’s shameful.

  7. Takere 7

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I have been watching your tweets too and it seems to me (cause I’ve being doing a similar thing with Maori) even the cuzzies are a little gun-shy on speaking out against the Maori Monster Corp’s like Tainui Inc & Ngai Tahu and the kupapa Maori Party? Maybe its the fear of retribution? Or been told the ole bullshit kopapa of stay in-line-ehoa and wait your turn BS which I’m sick of and continually get eye-balled by the cuzzies for speaking out and calling out the “elites” who (some were) before they got involved with the Settlement process were running around on the farm chasing the cows but now have become the rangatira, the “porcelain Gods,” in their own underpants who continue to make poor investments because they’re taking advice from pakeha’s appointed by the Crown?? Nick Smith, MBie, Steven Joyce et al. This Kemadec issue has great potential to be a “watershed” tipping-point too, with the Maori elite, the Entities, the Corporations and the politics that are all playing out in the public arena with people looking on but also a bit confused, who the good guys are in this? There’s the moral outrage brewing so folks are waiting to see what will happens next. Also we have Nick Smith, ” I’ll deny everything I do is racist” yet his actions are detrimental to everything Maori?? WTF! The Greens are fucked(?)….got themselves stuck in the middle of this with the Nat’s siding up to them for this deal which then, they won’t need the Maori Party who’ve now realised that they may have shot their load a little too early by allowing the Greens to get into the bed? Both party’s will be concerned about their core voters who maybe worried too? How this plays out with the back drop of Housing, Homelessness Environment, Legality of Treaty Settlement(s), Poverty the provinces are starting to hurt too, the growing cost of a changing Education system are all elements of what Maori are supposedly failures at or the systemic failure of the Crown & Government has been the cause of Maori to top the tables in these areas? Keep on giving these issues a nudge and these major cornerstone pieces of our society could-should become the focal point for the election to be built around? Maybe this issue of the Kemadec Sanction is another reason why Key is keen on Helen winning the top Seat at the UN? Having her endorse the sanction will be a death-nail in Labours coffin come election time?

  8. @ COLONIAL VIPER /comment 4

    Possibly so ,… but another interested party , ie: Te Ohu Kaimoana at first glance it would seem , advocates the ‘ walk away’ option. Particularly Ken Mair. At this stage it is difficult to ascertain whether their is subterfuge from that quarter…

    It may indeed have been designed to showcase some sort of independence to demonstrate autonomy by the Maori party, with Te Ohu Kaimoana acting as the antithesis agent …. with the deferral of the Kermadec decision before the 2017 election both strategic in maintaining the Maori vote to bolster up a National 4th term and assuaging fears of that Maori vote at the same time.

    Seems convoluted, but perhaps… it was discussed from an entirely different motive and perspective beforehand… less a legal or ethical one and more a political one.

    But that sort of thinking seems to me a long shot.

    It does still remain that the Kermadecs were included in the Treaty settlements of 1992.

    Which is a legally binding one. And that includes fishing rights to the region. What compromise is worked out ( because that is the only way I see this happening ) will be interesting to see.

    I mentioned on another post that this issue and its outcome affects all New Zealanders in a broader sense because it involves the legality of guaranteed legal rights regarding private property, propriety , protected public lands etc… and I also mentioned that earlier on in the Key led National party’s tenure that for some time there was open discussion about whether to allow mining ( invariably offshore corporations etc ) in our National parks… to which National beat a hasty retreat from.

    And this is the dilemma if such a mechanism as the TTPA or similar was ever to be introduced , … in that scenario the corporate’s lawyers would be able to draw up a legal case which could ultimately overrule our sovereign position , our laws and – in an extreme case , – could even sue a govt and its people for perceived loss of profit.

    That could not only jeopardize the Treaty of Waitangi but also non treaty issues with a legal standing in this country. Domestically , an arbitrary and autocratic govt could gain confidence to force changes that were unpopular against the wishes of its people – with the Kermadecs being an early litmus test case and yardstick as a guide…

    We have already seen the steady application of the agenda of privatization in sensitive areas been steadfastly pursued by this govt – areas that seem nonsensical and arbitrary and against the wishes of large sectors of the community. The deliberate under-funding and sell off of state housing to pave the way for the private sector being only one small example.

    If they can get away with it , they will.

    While the Kermedecs can be debated from the standpoint of indigenous peoples, it is also one upholding the legal system in a broader sense in its entirety for all sectors. I would hold that this issue holds far more gravitas for future decision making by govts for the population of NZ than meets the eye – thus it becomes more of a political milestone in just what govts feel they can get away with by riding roughshod over the very people who elected them and the legal framework by which they are required to operate under.

    • alwyn 8.1

      “It does still remain that the Kermadecs were included in the Treaty settlements of 1992”.
      Where did you discover that? I looked at the agreement and couldn’t find any mention of the Kermadecs.
      All I saw was that it allocated a percentage of the fishing quotas and promised the same share of any other species that were to be included in the QMS.
      Making part of the ocean into a sanctuary, and excluding everyone doesn’t seem to change the conditions at all or alter the agreement. There is still the same fraction of the quota allocated to Maori interests.
      As Smith has pointed out there have been a variety of non-fishing areas that have been set up since that date an they don’t seem to have upset anyone.

      • WILD KATIPO 8.1.1

        @ alwyn, from the NZ Herald Editorial today (18/09/2016) ,

        It would be interesting to get further clarification I will admit.

        ‘ Maori take the view that the 1992 agreement, known as the Sealord deal, confirmed a property right. This was how the settlement was framed at the time, and why it had the support of all tribes as it was seen as full and final. Te Ohu filed claims in court as long ago as March arguing the sanctuary extinguished the property right and emerged without consultation.

        The Maori Party has moved in behind Te Ohu, forcing the Government to put the legislation on hold while it searches for a political solution. Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell, while stopping short of saying the dispute was a coalition breaker, declared that the sanctuary’s impact on Treaty rights was “very serious”. ‘

    • dukeofurl 8.2

      the idea that ‘fishing quota’ are a property right doesnt seem quite true either.

      Yes you can sell it, or lease it but it still remains a ‘license from the government’

      the tobacco companies were remined of this when the went to court over their property rights to their trademarks. The court said their case was a 1st year legal student error, as their trademarks were licenses not property ( decision of full bench Federal Court of Australia- but would be similar here)

      This sort of pushback from TOKM isnt really about some ‘ever wise’ maori word view, its a normal legal approach using the court action to change an outcome.
      TOKM is no stranger to legal action over the most arcane of issues. Which can be about non consultation among iwi!

    • Colonial Viper 8.3

      I mentioned on another post that this issue and its outcome affects all New Zealanders in a broader sense because it involves the legality of guaranteed legal rights regarding private property, propriety , protected public lands etc…

      The courageous Maori Party fighting for Kiwi private property rights against the predations of an over-reaching Crown tending towards absolutism.

      Pull the other one, mate, it makes a nice story but what you are claiming here is a really long stretch, not least because the type of property involved and the type of ownership of that property, and the type of use of that property, is vastly different than anything most NZers will ever engage with.

  9. Richard Rawshark 9

    From what info I can gather it just does not sit right. As in. John Key has a group of professional staff advising him, he would certainly have known of the ramification of the announcement at the UN. Yet he proceeded.

    This then surely(honestly i’m not calling you surely) is another pre election con, dirty politics IMHO. Whatever he’s up to, at the end of the day it’ll be to make his partner the Maori party gain votes or keep them from labour and to make himself and National look good.

    He’s already made one delay if i am right soon we will hear after consulting with Maori either a compromise or an about turn with sensibility and good government being the reasons, helped by a compliant media aka Herald and TV and radio, Hi Mike.

    This is not government, it’s playing the Nation to stay in power in a manner that I have never seen before.

  10. joe90 10

    a convenient iwi/kiwi division on a softhearted issue

    pricks can’t help themselves


    • Richard Rawshark 10.1

      I know!!

      But wouldn’t it be great if that was true or National had been using the media to mass manipulate the population.., kind of, well as in brainwashing.. :/

      and if there somewhere was a paper trail of that.., Rawshark?

      Which got me to thinking, Dirty politics, or public misinformation and manipulation, which does the opposition think would have been the more.., effective way to have labelled Rawsharks revelations?

      To beat this governments dirty politics one needs a snake oil salesman attitude to things, sadly I am like that. I just don’t practise it. 🙂

  11. AveJoe 11

    “Environmentalists are racist.” lol

    What dark organization bent this narrative.

    [Stephanie: Your comment reeks of trolling. I advise you to up your game if you want to stick around.]

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      Yep, that’s pretty good.

      Although, that said, we shouldn’t be limited to doing what’s right just because it has commercial value.

      • RedLogix 12.1.1

        And she managed the entire article without resorting to the r-word once. Ultimately the only resolution to this will come about when everyone listens to each other and a mutually acceptable path forward is found.

        • Your passive-aggressive snark is noted. I do appreciate that some people think the only thing worse than generations of oppression, theft, violence and cultural genocide is being called “the r-word”. 🙄

          • RedLogix

            If in your experience you find that calling people racists inclines them to trust, good faith and courageous conversation … then who am I to stand in your way?

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              What do you suggest we say then, when sweet lovely cuddly bunnies allow prejudicial crap to poison the well of public discourse?

            • ropata

              +1 RedLogix, I avoided this post because of the angry-soapbox-megaphone style headline

  12. Rae 13

    My natural instinct tells me a large conservancy such as the Kermadec sanctuary can be nothing but a good thing in oceans that we have plundered for so long.
    I understand that this should have been done collaboratively and really do wish that had been the path taken.

    • Yeah – ultimately its a good thing. But when political machinations are being used to further a political partys interests – and the conservation thing is a mere byproduct – that does not sit well with the populace.

      Especially when there have been many voices raised about the state of pollution on the main islands of New Zealand.

      It would be a good thing if there were even more such sanctuarys created – but the way Key is going about this smacks of political motive – not environmental considerations.

      • RedLogix 13.1.1

        Exactly. If Key truly cared about creating this sanctuary he would have gotten all his ducks lined up and passed it through the House virtually with barely a dissenting vote.

        That he hasn’t smacks either of incompetence (which is rarely the case with this man), or he’s engaging in some convoluted wedge politics as CV suggests.

        • jcuknz

          Yea Right … Its all John Key’s fault …. LOL pull another leg.

        • Macro

          The more I think on this, the more I become convinced that while it may have been initially incompetence and the urge to be the big “I AM” on the part of Key on the international stage, it is now being turned into wedge politics for the benefit of Nats and the MP.

  13. Observer Tokoroa 14

    . Does the Treaty mean that one sector in New Zealand gets gifts, but other sectors don’t?

    . If so why do we bother calling our society a Democracy ?

    Shouldn’t all the people share ? and have the same access to assets. Shouldn’t all the people work for a better Society. ?


  14. vto 15

    ha ha the daily white and/or male blame game

    responsible for all of society’s ills

    but none of societys goodness

    very funny

    [Stephanie: Is it National Oversimplification Day? Get the chip off your shoulder and try genuinely engaging in the conversation instead of imposing your own victim complex on it for once.]

    • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1

      Ethnicity and/or gender do not predict for bad faith behaviour. The post focuses on bad faith behaviour, but for some reason you think it’s all about you…

      What’s that about?

    • vto 15.2

      Straight back at you

      The screeching about all things male and white has rendered further engagement with people such as yourself worthless

  15. RTM 16

    The debate about the Kermadecs has also shown up an ignorance about Polynesian history. Critics of the Maori Party’s position have often claimed confidently that Maori didn’t travel to the Kermadecs in the period before contact with Europeans.

    But archaeologists have found obsidian from Mayor Island in the Bay of Plenty on Raoull, the largest of the Kermadec Islands, alongside recognisably Maori artefacts. It seems demonstrably true, then, that at least one party of Maori reached the islands long before the coming of Tasman or Cook.

    Raoull obsidian has also been found on Macauley Island, a smaller part of the Kermadec archipelago.

    The finds on Raoull and Macauley and similar discoveries on Norfolk Island are amongst the best evidence we have for the theory that Maori made return voyages to their tropical East Polynesian homeland/s.

    Thusfar, archaeological digs in archipelagos like the Cooks and Australs and Marquesas haven’t uncovered any artefacts or minerals that definitely come from Aotearoa, but that could always change as research progresses.

    There’s another Polynesian people with a much more tragic connection to the Kermadecs. During the Peruvian slave trade of 1863-65, when thousands of Polynesians and Micronesians were kidnapped from their islands and taken to toil in South America, a shipload of stolen Tokelauans were dumped on Raoull Island, which then often known as Sunday Island, by an American captain who had intended to take them to Peru. The Tokelauans had become sick, and their captor had become worried they would infect him and his crews. In his classic study of the Peruvian slave trade Henry Maude estimates that between 60 and 130 Polynesians died of disease and starvation on the island.

    The veteran Pacific journalist Michael Field is asking questions at the moment about why the management plan for the Kermadecs doesn’t seem to include any acknowledgement that Raoull Island is a mass grave.

  16. dukeofurl 17

    What happened about the other marine sanctuaries that we have

    This map shows dozens ( inc the proposed Kermadecs but also Antipodes, Bounty is etc)

    “Mimiwhangata Marine Park
    Situated between Whangarei and the Bay of islands, this Marine Park was established in 1984 and is administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Fisheries Act. Commercial fishing has been prohibited since 1994, and recreational fishing methods have been restricted. While there are concerns about the high level of recreational fishing within the park, Mimiwhangata does qualify as an MPA.”

    Was property rights or licenses for quota extiguished when commercial fishing was prohibited ?

    Or even the Cook strait cables ( and other such underwater areas)
    Cable and Pipeline Protection Zones
    These prevent all marine-based activities that may threaten undersea cables or pipelines. They can have the effect of protecting local species and habitat. If the positive effects are strong enough to meet the MPA standard, Cable and Pipeline Protection Zones could qualify for MPA status. They are established under the Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1996.

  17. Scott 18

    We have three different types of rights to fish in NZ, customary rights, commercial rights (the quota system), and recreational rights.

    In this case the only relevant rights are the commercial rights through the quota system.

    The iwi was given commercial quota as a part of their treaty settlement. Fine. But that is no different to giving them money – it did not replace or displace customary fishing rights.

    The sanctuary would limit where quota rights can be exercised, for all such quota holders be they Maori of not. But, it does so by removing an area where the rights are not commonly (if at all) exercised – the islands are some 800-1000 km offshore and quota holders can and do catch their quota much closer to home.

    I can see why the government thought it a non-issue in those circumstances, but I think all quota rights holders (Maori and not) should be compensated for any loss in value caused by the change. It seems that loss in value may be zero or close to it, but they (all of them) deserve that to be properly considered.

    Racist? No. Treating quota rights held by Maori differently to others would be racist.

    A good process? No. Not in my book anyway, but for different reasons than are being proposed by others.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 18.1

      Clearly, your opinion of what is ‘relevant’ isn’t shared by everyone.

      • Scott 18.1.1


        My understanding is that customary fishing rights are not relevant in the area surrounding the islands because that area was not fished by Maori in the pre-colonization period (for obvious reasons of distance).

        Is that wrong or are you eluding to wider Treaty issues?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          You’re sure that the seafarers and others who left their artefacts (and graves) there didn’t go fishing? Remarkable.

          For me the biggest issue is bad faith towards our treaty partners. If it’s typical incompetence it’s embarrassing and if it’s a cynical political ploy it’s worse.

          • Scott

            I’m sure they did, but that doesn’t establish customary fishing rights.

            I think you’re right though. The real complaint seems to be about bad faith, and the rest a smokescreen. I share that concern in a way, but do in relation to all relevant quota holders. If the sanctuary would diminish the value of their quota rights they ought to be properly compensated.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Alternatively, our treaty partners might take some other view of the matter that drives a truck right through any lesser commercial concerns.

              Since the first step is to consult with them in good faith, and that hasn’t happened yet, you’re jumping the gun a bit.

        • That claim is indeed disputed, as you’ll see if you scroll up to comment 16.

          • Scott

            RTM was talking about artifacts that are much older than the colonization days. I suspect from during the migration period. He did not suggesting there is any evidence that at the time of the treaty Maori regularly traveled for weeks in the open sea to get to islands 800-1000km away in order to fish for fish they could have caught just off our coast – and that is the sort of thing needed to establish customary fishing rights.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              That’s your professional legal opinion is it?

              • Scott

                I don’t think it is a legal question really. More one for the historians and the archaeologists.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Nope, I don’t think they trade in weak straw-men either.

                  No-one is suggesting that Maori regularly traveled (sic) for weeks in the open sea to get to islands 800-1000km away in order to fish.

                  Can you think of any other scenarios?

                  • Scott

                    Given that it seems the islands were uninhabited at the time of the Treaty no I cannot, not if you want to establish customary rights.

                    If that is wrong, and the islands were inhabited at the time of the treaty, that doesn’t really help anyway. Any customary rights that then existed were abandoned along with the islands.

                    No, it seems the only sensible argument to establish such rights still exist will depend on regular trips of the 800 to 1000km across open sea (and for them to have remained secret for all this time).

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Has this narrow definition of custom been tested in court?

                      Personally I’m pretty sure that it’s customary for seafarers to fish, and if the Kermadecs have traditionally been used in the ways DtB describes…

                    • Scott []

                      Yes, it has.

              • Draco T Bastard

                No, that would be the international legal definition:

                CUSTOMARY RIGHTS. Rights which are acquired by custom. They differ from prescriptive rights in this, that the former are local usages, belonging to all the inhabitants of a particular place or district-the latter are rights of individuals, independent of the place of their residence. Best on Pres. Sec. 79; Cruise, Dig. t. 31, c. 1, Sec. 7; 2 Greenl. Evi 542.

                No Māori tribe, or anyone else for that matter, ever inhabited the Kermadecs. It was used by many peoples of the Pacific as a stop over place on their travels to fish and resupply.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Yes, customarily.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    You missed my last minute edit.

                    But the fact is that they didn’t live there which is what would give them customary rights. And if a tribe had lived there then that tribe would have customary rights and the rest wouldn’t.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I edited after your edit 🙂

                      In any case this is just one issue. Nowadays, tangata whenua have access to commercial fishing opportunities. Perhaps they’d decide to leave the Kermadecs alone, perhaps not. Better consult them and find out.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Perhaps they’d decide to leave the Kermadecs alone, perhaps not. Better consult them and find out.

                      That’s actually you now shifting the goal posts as you’ve now thoroughly lost the argument for customary rights.

                      Consultation would have been better most assuredly but it’s solely the province of the quota system and nothing to do with Ti Tiriti except that Māori were given a quota as part of the settlement process.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      We’ll see.

                      I don’t think one treaty partner has any business determining what is “relevant” or “solely” an issue for the other.

                      I don’t think you’ve made your case that seafarers’ behaviour can’t be “customary” either, for that matter; it wasn’t so much a shift of goalposts as a “let’s agree to disagree and move on”.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      I don’t think one treaty partner has any business determining what is “relevant” or “solely” an issue for the other.

                      Customary rights have been set by international precedent.

                      Basically, for Māori to claim customary rights now would be them claiming the islands as Māori territory and they would have had to have that before the British claimed them in 1886.

                      In other words, to claim them now would be to rewrite history.

                      I don’t think you’ve made your case that seafarers’ behaviour can’t be “customary” either, for that matter;

                      The point is that no one claimed them before then but many people stopped by. Polynesians, USians, Canadians, British, French. Pretty much any one who sailed the Pacific in fact.

                      So, who has customary rights under your idea that everyone who stopped there has them?

                      Go the way that you’re suggesting and we’d be stuck in claims and counter claims for all eternity.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Yes, grasping settler notions of ownership sit uneasily next to such realities, and yet real they are.

                      I’m not talking about property rights, and I’m not pretending that negotiating these issues is easy. No wonder the National Party wishes they’d go away.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              I’m not saying I think anyone’s absolutely established customary use or that the evidence cited there applies in that regard.

              What I’m saying is that there are strong feelings from people that they should have customary use rights and are disputing the assumption that they don’t. This is exactly why we should have properly consulted on this issue, so that people’s feelings could be pinned down with relevant evidence, and a fair decision made where people felt like they had been heard.

              Instead we have the government running around saying “nobody fished in the Kermadecs until Pakeha came,” which is a really bad idea, as it pre-judges the issue and makes consultation look like window dressing.

              • Scott

                Well the onus should be on them to show that they do have customary fishing rights in the area. Particularly where the claim on its face seems somewhat fanciful. They have not asserted them until now.

              • Draco T Bastard

                What I’m saying is that there are strong feelings from people that they should have customary use rights and are disputing the assumption that they don’t.

                Unless they lived there then it’s really simple: They don’t have customary rights to them.

                Instead we have the government running around saying “nobody fished in the Kermadecs until Pakeha came,”

                They didn’t say that at all – they said that they weren’t used for commercial fishing and thus there was no commercial loss by making it a sanctuary.

                • Scott


                  But would add they might have customary rights while not living there if they regularly visited the area to fish – of which there is no evidence and that is unsurprising given it is some 800 – 1000 kms from mainland NZ.

                • I’ll double-check those statements to be sure I haven’t mischaracterised them, cheers Draco.

                  I agree it’s likely that nobody has customary rights, but we should be allowing people to present evidence and reminding them of the criteria rather than simply assuming nobody does.

                  And I’m not entirely certain you’re correct that you have to live on the Kermadecs to have customary rights, rather that seems to suggest that customary rights accrue to geographical regions as opposed to individuals. If Māori had a tradition of sailing through that area and fishing that was continuous until at least the time of the treaty, then arguably those iwi will have customary fishing rights. If they feel they do, they should be allowed to present arguments and evidence to someone who will consider it with an open mind before we shut off all fishing in the area, and even if someone does have customary rights, that doesn’t mean that a fair compromise can’t be made where they trade those rights for some other right guaranteed by the government that they find of similar value.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    And I’m not entirely certain you’re correct that you have to live on the Kermadecs to have customary rights, rather that seems to suggest that customary rights accrue to geographical regions as opposed to individuals.

                    Customary rights apply to a people and not individuals.

                    If Māori had a tradition of sailing through that area and fishing that was continuous until at least the time of the treaty, then arguably those iwi will have customary fishing rights.

                    Nope because:
                    1. Māori weren’t the only people stopping there to resupply
                    2. It wasn’t continuous

                    If they feel they do, they should be allowed to present arguments and evidence…

                    There’s no one living there and hasn’t been for centuries despite having been settled at least once and possibly twice.
                    Stopped there, yes, lived there, no. And living there is the criteria not stopping there on your way through.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Then perhaps new criteria will emerge from legal argument.

                    • I agree with you that customary rights apply to the people who live(d) in a particular area, that’s what the opinion you were quoting basically said. (The one at

                      1. It’s irrelevant if other people also used the same area to resupply. That just means there wasn’t exclusive use, which to my knowledge isn’t part of a customary rights test.
                      2. It’s actually a question for lawyers to determine whether a custom of infrequent visits can count as continuous use. (which it might if those visits corresponded with a regular event or timetable, for instance)

                      While the legal tradition is that customary use is for inhabitants of a nearby area, people should be allowed to make arguments that said tradition is wrong, and judges should be able to hear them. This is how law changes.

                      This isn’t necessarily an open-and-shut matter, although I do agree it’s very unlikely anyone will successfully establish customary rights as it would require an unlikely degree of strong evidence and/or a generous ruling in court. But that’s precisely the sort of decision that should be left to courts or similar impartial entities to decide, rather than being decided by legislators.

            • Richard Rawshark

              What does it matter Scott, it was just a tiff over something to raise the Maori party profile in the media and get some good publicity. Cannot fool me anymore with these contrived inter-accord squabbles.


              Lastly Scott, during all the time before Pakeha arrived, do you think the landscape and coastline and islands were the same? What have we worked out is the oldest records of mankind in NZ? 800 years, were there active volcanoes during this time?

              Point i’m making is we actually don’t know the layout of the land or country in the past or at those times to any accuracy so therefore the ability to island hop may have been a whole lot easier, what was the sea levels during this time.

              No one can make any assumptions with accuracy of the past when we get into unrecorded history.

              As for the sanctuary, i’d prefer the whole of the Antarctic off limits for everything. and make it a good latitude out from the poles. Same for the Arctic circle IMHO.

              One tiny sanctuary in the grand scheme of the oceans and doing something, is good but we need to do more.

        • RedLogix

          What are the criteria that need to be met in order to establish a customary fishing right to a particular area?

          I’ve done a bit of googling and no obvious answer came up.

          • Scott

            As far as I’m aware all customary rights recognize an established practice at the time of the Treaty that has been continuous since (allowing for the periodic nature of such things or other non-abandonment explanation). For fishing I think they’d add in that it is non-commercial.

            There is some information here:

            This is also a interesting read about the topic (NZ Herald article) but comes from one perspective as it is written by Sir Douglas Graham:

          • Draco T Bastard

            What are the criteria that need to be met in order to establish a customary fishing right to a particular area?

            To actually live there and to have done so for generations before the signing of Ti Tiriti.

            • Scott

              Most such rights do require living there as you say, but that is due to the nature of the rights concerns. Things like hunting, fishing, and pounamu gathering are slightly different and may not require living in the actual location.

              Given the distance involved here though (800 – 1000km over open sea) they probably amount to the same thing. In practice if they didn’t live there at the time or haven’t continued to do so since then forget it.

              • dukeofurl

                Then how would you allocate the quota to which Iwi ? The far north because the are closest, but that covers quite a few tribal groups.

                • Scott

                  That issue was grappled with in the settlement process. And for better or worse it was allocated. Since then is has been able to be brought and sold.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    …and yet here we are, grappling with it.

                    • Scott

                      No. I don’t think we are. I think we are grappling with an entity (TOKM) who wants compensation for a perceived interference with their property rights (and I agree with them to the extent that perception reflects reality) and the rest is a smokescreen.

                      They sit alongside a few who believe that Maori own everything, the fish, the oil, the water in rivers, everything, and are more than happy to jump aboard any passing bandwagon.

                      You might also add in a few that think this smells like trouble for the present government and are happy to stir any pot that has that odour.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      You are very keen to corral off areas of relevance. If you’re not careful you’ll be sitting in a room on your own telling yourself what the other party thinks.

                      Oh, wait…

                    • Scott []

                      I just get fed up a bit when serious issue like racism is used to advance commercial negotiations like these. It is not about racism at all, and I think that issue is belittled by its attempted application to this.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      commercial negotiations

                      Like I said: these attempts to confine the subject to the things you want to discuss, the framework you want to hang them on. They’re transparent, stupid, and counterproductive.

                      If you don’t want people to point at your racism stop displaying it.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  So for a start, I think it’d be good to let iwi decide for themselves what their interests are.

  18. Barfly 19

    I read here on The Standard earlier a statement attributed to Nick Smith that

    Maori owned companies fishing in the proposed sanctuary has been nil…zero tonnes

    That commercial fishing in the proposed sanctuary was 20 tonnes out of a 450,000 tonne total quota (which explains National’s happiness to make it a sanctuary)

    Minister(s) met with TOKM 10 times over ten months and that TOKM would not budge from having the right to fish commercially in that area.

    I personally despise the National government and pretty much all of its MPs , but the howls of racism and breaching treaty rights here seem to me to be completely cuckoo.

    • Jenny Kirk 19.1

      I’m more inclined to agree with CV’s theory at 8.3 – along with the info indicated in Barfly’s comments at 19.

      It just doesn’t make sense otherwise – and remember, this is a very tricky government – up to all sorts of things normal people wouldn’t even think about.
      So it looks to me like the Maori Party (inherently National) – have a good thing going here: plenty of publicity, looks like they’re “standing up” to the government, egged on by TOKM (also inherently National) and us, the suckers, are falling for it.

      This isn’t racism. Its not racism versus conservation. Its dirty politics.

  19. dukeofurl 20

    Quite a good ‘broad brush’ overview of the Maori and fishing and the later deals

  20. By the by- Metiria has been interviewed on the bill and the Green Party’s position on the mana of iwi Māori. It’s worth a listen if you care about the bill or were concerned that the Greens would go ahead when there were real Treaty of Waitangi concerns.

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