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ACT Fisheries Vote Unlikely

Sunday 8 Jun 2003 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Treaty of Waitangi & Maori Affairs

It is unlikely that ACT will vote for the $700 million allocation deal that Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson has approved, ACT New Zealand Treaty Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Ngai Tahu is right - it overrides property rights that were the Treaty's main guarantee. If they are ignored, Ngai Tahu and others will return, claiming with justification compensation for the breaches Mr Hodgson will push through Parliament this year," Mr Franks said.

"Settlements are only justified as damages for loss of Treaty-promised property rights, and Crown wrongdoing. This settlement diverts damages for loss of fisheries into racial benefits. Christian Cullen may be in line for a share, whether or not his ancestors lost fishing territory.

"The allocation should only go to iwi which lost fisheries through Treaty breaches, according to who lost what. But some beneficiaries will be descendants of Maori who lost nothing. Many were loyalist kupapa, who helped the Crown against rebellious claimant iwi.

"Settlements are supposed to uphold Article Two's property rights and make the Crown pay for unlawful expropriations. But under duress of never getting their money, rightful claimants will have to agree to much of their compensation going to folk who never had relevant rights. Urban Maori aren't entitled, but have succeeded, and iwi with small coastlines have been opportunist. I don't blame them for envy, in view of the deep-sea fishing quota. Reasoning for deep-sea claims doesn't stand up, but is no reason to allow others to muscle in.

"Blame must go on the Labour Maori caucus - which changed the Commissioners, to coerce rightful claimants to give in. Worse, the Government never ignored appeals for guidance. Commissioners were told to work out what to do with the vast asset given to them. The entire Treaty claim process is now being discredited. Despite years of groping for Treaty principles to guide settlements, the Government simply refuses to say what they are.

"This deal now puts the Article Two's property right protections into a glass case, treating them as a quaint history, irrelevant even to Maori. That is a loss to both Maori and pakeha. Even if it is just the outcome of negotiation exhaustion, future generations will not accept that excuse. A brown face should not give someone a share in Treaty settlement money. That is racism, it is patronising and it will probably not help - however well-meant it may be.

"The windfall may have the same disastrous effect on some undeserving recipient iwi as we have from non-work-tested unemployment benefits. Or it could be worse; affecting iwi with weak internal governance like a loaf of stale bread affects a flock of seagulls.

"The Treaty process should not be about political deals. It should reaffirm for all New Zealanders the respect for property rights and law promised in the Treaty of Waitangi. This settlement is not the end of a 12-year Maori squabble. Pakeha have as much to lose as Maori if the Government gets away with trashing property rights," Mr Franks said

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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