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Peters Speech: Foreshore and Seabed Case

An address by Rt Hon Winston Peters to a public meeting at Forbury Park Racecourse, Victoria Street, St Kilda, Dunedin on Sunday 10 August 2003 at 1.30pm

Clark V Canute - The Foreshore and Seabed Case

There has been a lot of debate in recent weeks about the foreshore and seabed issue.

Hundreds of newspaper columns have been written, television news bulletins have been full of rhetoric and talkback radio has gone into overload.

Everybody has an opinion on this contentious issue – and rightfully so because it goes to the heart of who we are and what we are in this country.

When you think about beaches and the foreshore a famous figure from history comes to mind.

King Canute – one of the early English kings.

Whenever the media want to describe a leader acting in defiance of the facts and failing to see the limits of their power they invoke Canute.

He is portrayed as the foolish king who tried to command the waves and stop the tide.

As usual the media miss the real message.

Canute was actually the wise one.

When his courtiers and flunkeys tried to convince him his power was absolute and unlimited he gave them a simple but effective demonstration of the true situation.

He took them down to the foreshore and ordered the waves to retreat.

He quickly made his point.

He knew he was not all-powerful and that it was the courtiers who needed the lesson.

If we jump a few centuries across the world we come to the New Zealand Labour Government’s answer to King Canute.

We refer of course, to his alter ego, Helen Clark.

However, unlike Canute, she is drunk with power. So much so that she has placed the Speaker of the House in an impossible situation over the Harry Duynhoven Bill.

She must know that the blanket provision suspending part of our electoral law for this term of Parliament covers more MPs than Harry Duynhoven and yet she won’t own up.

Surrounded by an army of spin doctors, PC policy analysts and thought police, she is fawned on in the manner of an imperial court.

The clinical diagnosis of her condition is a serious case of megalomania.

Now she believes herself to be omnipotent and no more so when it comes to reshaping New Zealand to her vision.

That is a vision where race determines whether you are a first class, second class or some other category of Kiwi.

Make no mistake; this government believes that Maori have greater rights than other citizens of this country.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen confirmed this in a speech to Labour Party activists in April this year.

He said that the nation’s founding document guarantees property rights to Maori, which by virtue of the Treaty, do not automatically extend to other New Zealanders.

Dr Cullen also described the Treaty as a “living” document where new applications or implications may arise as circumstances change.

Let me repeat that – he said the Treaty is a “living” document where new applications or implications may arise as circumstances change.

This is scary stuff. Woolly thinking politicians are taking “principles” that have never been defined from a “living” document that changes according to the political needs of the time!

What is even scarier is that Queen Helen has handed the foreshore and seabed issue to her Courtier Cullen – the minister who is convinced that Maori have more rights than anyone else.

Unfortunately Queen Helen’s “vision” for ordinary New Zealanders is that of a country permanently divided against itself on the basis of race.

Race based preferment is alien to New Zealanders – whatever their background.

We in New Zealand First believe that we are one people and that we should live in one country under one set of rules. Our society cannot function if there is politically and legally sanctioned racial preferment for one group based on an outdated colonising document written by a naval officer in February 1840. It is interesting to wonder sometimes what would have happened if there had never been a Treaty signed at Waitangi. What difference would it have made? Would New Zealand be a better or worse place? You see the Treaty is what you happen to make of it – and for many people in the grievance industry it is what the British call “ a nice little earner”. We in New Zealand First are concerned at the racial undertone of the arguments over the seabed and the foreshore.

We should avoid concentrating on our differences and instead focus on our similarities.

Many Maori were severely disadvantaged during the so-called reforms of the 80s and 90s.

When the fishing Quota Management System was introduced, hundreds of Maori fishing families lost their livelihoods

Tens of Thousands of Maori also lost their jobs during the restructuring of the eighties and nineties.

However, instead of concentrating on training, education, employment and housing, successive Labour and National governments promised to fix the plight of Maori through the Treaty of Waitangi.

They have both fostered the Treaty industry recklessly and foolishly, regardless of the damage – and regardless of the longer-term consequences.

Let us be clear - there can be no winners from the current fiasco over the foreshore and seabed.

All of us lose if we become a divided society.

The foreshore issue is only incidentally about Maori - it is actually how we as are being fragmented and divided by unseen forces and agendas that 99 percent of Kiwis want no part of.

How ironic that National is now trying to use the foreshore issue to set one group of New Zealanders against another.

National’s opportunism over the foreshore issue is shameless and New Zealand First wants no part of it.

Their inbred instincts to profit at the expense of the nation’s interest have prevailed.

New Zealand First is not going to join National’s odious campaign to foment disharmony by setting one group of New Zealanders against another.

That would be contrary to everything we stand for.

How absurd and incongruous for National to be taking up the cause of ‘one nation when they themselves have been instrumental in giving the Treaty juggernaut its momentum.

National is complicit with Labour in "Treaty mongering" – their fingerprints are all over the offending documents.

Notice how they have only started to change their tune on the Treaty in the wake of the drubbing they got from the public at the last election.

National have been running a so-called “Beaches for All” campaign.

How bogus is that?

National could not care a fig for the rights of New Zealanders to use the foreshore.

Their view is rank hypocrisy – what they are in fact saying is:

“It’s OK for Tom Cruise, say, or other foreigners to own swathes of our coast but let’s make mischief over possible Maori rights to set up a mussel farm somewhere.”

National has been happy to see vast swathes of our prime land pass into foreign ownership particularly coastline without a murmur.

There was no talk of “beaches for all” then.

In fact we were supposed to see ourselves as grateful that wealthy foreigners were buying big blocks of our country, locking the gates and putting up trespass signs.

New Zealanders should be alarmed at the rapid alienation of this county – not by Maori – but by foreign carpetbaggers.

People should see National’s use of the foreshore for what it is – a blatant attempt to exploit racial division for their own purposes.

Well, National can go down the road to racial division – and if they hurry they can catch up with Labour, but we are not going with them.

New Zealand First has been warning repeatedly that Maori and non-Maori will all suffer from the Treaty Industry.

Because the Treaty Industry is deeply damaging to this country – and Maori will suffer as much as anyone else.

Maori have as much stake in a just and tolerant country, subject to one law for all, as every New Zealander has.

Much of the Treaty talk is pure invention.

The Treaty has turned into a bottomless pit of grievance, mischief and discord.

Anything can now be pushed as a ‘Treaty’ issue.

The Treaty is truly a chameleon document – a document for all seasons and all issues just like Michael Cullen says it is.

The effect is to undermine our culture of tolerance and fairness.

We must draw a line in the sand – both Maori and non-Maori and sort this out with goodwill.

We all must accept that the real culprits are the ‘Treatymongerers’ among us.

They infest the legal profession – the public service –the media - as well the Cabinet.

Usually the Treaty industry operates by stealth.

Occasionally they let the cat out the bag just like Michael Cullen did in his speech to his fellow Treaty - travellers in the Labour Party.

New Zealand cannot function as a modern democracy with a massive cuckoo in its midst – the legally sanctioned racial preferment of one group.

The Treaty of Waitangi supposedly created a basis on which this nation could go forward as one people.

But many New Zealanders are uneasy about the way New Zealand is drifting apart because of the misuse of the Treaty.

They are right to be concerned.

The Treaty is being cynically reinvented and manipulated by people whose true agenda is division and disruption.

And the tragedy for New Zealand is that both the National and Labour are aiding and abetting that agenda.

During the next few weeks the Government will flood the media with a misinformation campaign designed to create confusion over the foreshore and seabed issue.

Over the past week the spin-doctors and selected ministers started drip-feeding doubts about rights of access to soften the people up for radical changes to their customary rights.

The Prime Minister has selected John Tamahere, her minister of mischief making, to start the propaganda campaign while she stays out of sight.

Her advisers have obviously warned her that it is too dangerous for her to face up to the people – she might get caught out.

Tamahere, the Minister for Statistics, tried to bluster and bluff during the week that a third of our coastline was already privately owned and inaccessible.

He was caught out – the figure is actually less than one percent.

He backed down later to say it was “potentially” in private ownership – whatever that means.

At the same time someone else claimed that rights of access through the so-called “Queen’s chain” around waterways were also becoming more limited.

What the Government forgets is that ordinary people can see through this deception and duplicity.

They can smell the dead herrings being dragged under their noses.

This is an issue, which can be resolved by the commonsense of ordinary people who accept the principle that we are all equal.

In the late eighteenth century the ordinary people of France refused to accept that they had fewer rights than the nobility.

They believed in the concept of liberty, equality and fraternity so much they stormed the Bastille and overthrew the monarchy.

Queen Helen could reflect on that.

If she and her accomplices quash the birthright of New Zealanders by giving racial preferment over the foreshore and seabed there will be a revolution in this part of the world.

We won’t be storming the Beehive, it will happen at the ballot box.

Only one party is on the side of the people over this issue.

That party is New Zealand First.

Our position on this contentious issue is clear and consistent.

We believe that we should be one people and that we should live in one country under one set of rules. New Zealand First will support any move to reinforce what we believe - that the Crown has legal title to the foreshore and seabed to hold in trust for all of us. We also believe this situation extends to other parts of the environment where ownership could be disputed. Customary rights of use can still be protected this way, but these rights cannot be extended to legal ownership of natural, public resources on the basis of race. Generations of New Zealanders have grown up enjoying unrestricted access to the coastline and sea. We are a nation of fishermen and fisherwomen. We love our surf and sun, our picnics and barbecues. We take our rights of access to the sea for granted. Woe betide any government that tries to take these rights away from us by some strange legal interpretation of an outdated Treaty document that was not and cannot be the basis of constitutional government. We are determined to fight the danger that the Treaty industry poses to the unity of our country.

We urge you to join us in that fight – whether it be on the beaches or the foreshore or the ballot box.

We will never surrender.

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