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Address To Foreshore & Seabed Legislation - Mahuta

Address to Foreshore & Seabed legislation

6 May 2004

Nanaia Mahuta MP

Tuu ana au ki te kei o te Waka
E kiia nei te koorero
"Mokau ki runga
Taamaki ki raro
Ko Mangatoatoa kei waenganui
Ko Pare Hauraki
Ko Pare Waikato
Ko te kaokaoroa o Paatetere"

Ka huri te titiro ki te rawhiti
Ko Tikapa moana
Te Pae o Hauraki ki Moehau

Ka rere ake au ki nga tai mihia o te Waitemata
Ki te Maanukanuka o Hoturoa
Tiro atu au ki te puuaha o te awa Tuupuna
He piko he taniwha
Waikato Taniwharau

Ka rongo te whatitiri
Tainui Aawhiro e nguunguru ana,
i te ao, i te poo

Ka tae atu raa ki te tumu o te waka
Ki Kawhia tangata
Ki Aotea whenua
Whaingaroa te moana
Ka tau hoki ki te uunga o te waka ki Mokau
Kaati au i konei

Pai Maarire!

I rise to speak to the Foreshore and Seabed Bill with an air of trepidation and high expectation that this Parliament will not act in a way reminiscent of its colonial days.

This is by no means an easy issue and quick fix solutions will haunt current and future Governments. That is not a threat, that is the reality of treating complex issues in a simplistic way.

Maaori understand that this is the only time they will have an opportunity to influence a law that will forever extinguish and transform what they have long understood their ancestral rights to be. They do not want the end result to transform those rights into something they can't recognise any more. Simple.

23,000 New Zealanders many of whom were Maaori appeared before the steps of this Parliament yesterday in opposition, to the intent of this bill.

Clearly there is a grave sense of unfairness and injustice with the speed at which such decisions are being taken. It was an expression that demanded the attention of all Politicians in this House. Politicians argued on the fringes of this debate which only polarised New Zealanders. No-body really wanted to understand the hearts and minds of Maaori who simply will not tolerate the watering down of their ancestral rights and what they mean. The Hiikoi walked right through the middle of this debate, "peacefully and without incident" (we understand) and showed this Parliament that the principles Maaori assert are understood by all New Zealanders. Principles of fairness, due process, justice and equality to name a few.

Those same New Zealanders represent a vibrant canvas of the future of this country who will not be limited by small-minded views that often shape New Zealand law as it applies to Maaori. They have put a face to that opposition and a proposition that there can be another way forward - we should listen.

The right to govern is a privilege and there is nothing more binding than the willing consent of those who choose to be governed. Each person on that hiikoi represented generations past and present. They do not consent to the extinguishment of their customary property rights, which is what the Bill does.

The hiikoi said clearly the solutions could be found in the Treaty of Waitangi and that the Government must commit to a relationship and solution based on those principles.

The common law doctrine of aboriginal or native title is a set of rules preserving the pre-existing rights that indigenous people have in their lands according to their tikanga.

Whether Maori signed the Declaration of Independence or the Treaty of Waitangi it is evident from their histories that they asserted the strongest concept of authority over their tribal domain. The Bill waters the effect of that authority to mere use rights, which again transform what Maaori understand their rights to have always been.

Simply being induced into existing RMA processes or "being consulted" with will not do.

The right to fully explore ones customary property rights and have them protected is reasonable I would have thought. So why are Maaori being prevented from doing so? What is the real reason for this Bill? Why is it that the only rights affected are those of Maaori? Many questions remain and the answers are not clear.

One thing is sure, if the foreshore and seabed bill is a glimpse of how Maaori customary rights are to be treated by the Government then we will see the tide of Maaori opinion turn as sure as night becomes day.

The Maaori electorate seats have a clear mandate to represent the views of our constituency on the hard issues. This is one of those times and Tainui waka and the electorate object to the first reading of the foreshore and seabed bill.

The mandate of that opinion is expressed now because it is fundamentally flawed. The Bill does not reflect what Maaori believe our pre-existing customary property rights to be, according to our tikanga. The Treaty of Waitangi is not recognised in any way and I suspect any tinkering by Select Committee will be just that.

We are in a time of peace, there are real opportunities to get it right but the Government must be committed to genuinely ensure that there is agreement from Maaori.

The Government is making a decision for Maaori because it's the best deal on the table; it's the only deal on the table and Maaori say no. Surely, Crown ownership remains subject to a customary property right until Maaori agree to any sort of alienation.

These are challenging times and young Maaori New Zealanders have an expectation that their potential will not be limited by perception or legislation. Those faces and the old people show us what determination is all about, and what vision and direction can achieve.

Let's commit to get it right. For that reason I do not intend to resign, and the Government will need to work hard to retain the confidence of my electorate and strengthen their relationship with Tainui waka.

Never again should the vote of Tainui be taken for granted, Waikato says no to this bill, Hauraki says no, Maniapoto says no and Raukawa says no.

No reira, he hokinga mahara, "e kore teenei oranga e huri ki tua o aaku mokopuna". Teenei e tuu nei, e haria ana oo koutou wawata, a koro a kui maa, ki te whakahee i teenei Pire.

Ka huri.

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