It’s been a momentous week on the foreshore. Labour announced that it was dropping its support for the Nats’ Marine and Coastal Areas Bill (replacement for the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004). All indications are that this is not a stunt, but a recognition that the underlying issue is far from resolved, and that Labour is trying to approach it constructively:
Enduring foreshore and seabed solution needed
Labour has today announced it is withdrawing support for the Marine and Coastal Area Bill. “We are now working with other parties to develop an enduring solution that will fully recognise un-extinguished Māori customary rights and title while guaranteeing access to the foreshore and seabed for all New Zealanders,” said Labour Leader Phil Goff.
Here is an opportunity for Maori to move past the current road block, and make genuine progress on their long held goals. In this context I was astounded and utterly disappointed in Tariana Turia’s response. Here it is in full:
Oh my, how the worm has turned
Press Release: The Maori Party
Co-Leader, Maori Party
Maori Party Co-Leader Tariana Turia says the Labour Party’s grand announcement they would not support the Marine and Coastal (Takutai Moana) Areas Bill is hypocritical but entirely predictable.
“This is the same party that pushed through the Foreshore and Seabed Act despite receiving massive opposition to the legislation.
“In fact of the 3946 submissions made 94 per cent opposed the Act, not to mention the tens of thousands of people who marched to their doorstep to voice their opposition,” says Mrs Turia.
“This is electioneering at its worst. They seem to think that every Maori is against it but what they don’t realise is that those same people have not forgotten what they did.
“My how the worm has turned – it’s just a shame that they didn’t see fit to follow public sentiment in 2004.”
Mrs Turia says the Labour Party needs to be reminded that the Ministerial Review Panel that undertook a review of their Act received a large number of submissions opposing the Act.
“In fact 85 percent of the submissions were opposed with 10 percent in favour of extensive amendment or repeal.
“Nothing has changed – public opinion to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act remains remarkably consistent.
“I am embarrassed for the Labour Party – they are totally without principle and continue to try and fool people by pretending they care,” says Mrs Turia.
“It must be terribly disappointing for Dr Michael Cullen, who used his last press conference as a Member of Parliament to admit, that with the benefit of hindsight, Labour should never have introduced legislation to prevent Maori from going to the Maori Land Court to seek customary title for the foreshore and seabed.
“If the Labour Party really cared about what people thought then they would never have passed the Foreshore and Seabed Act in the first place.”
Turia hates Labour because of their position on the foreshore in 2004. All the while she is working closely with National, whose position on the foreshore in 2004 was, lest we forget, hysterical press releases about how “Maori Gain Control Of The Beaches”, and a divisive and racist Iwi / Kiwi campaign. Both major parties have obviously moved on since 2004, but Tariana Turia has not.
The cruelest irony is that Turia’s blindness has forced her to become in effect the very thing that she hates. She is now the one defending a law which is in practice the same as Labour’s law. She is now the one defending a position which the majority of Maori reject. She is the one slamming the door shut on initiaitves that could break through the roadblock. She has herself become the biggest obstacle to progress for Maori on the foreshore and seabed. All for hatred.
Does it get any sadder than this? For the good of her party and her people Tariana Turia should step down, and let cooler heads explore new possibilities.