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Ririnui: Foreshore and Seabed Bill Second Reading

16 November 2004

Foreshore and Seabed Debate Second Reading

Speech notes Mita Ririnui
Mr Speaker.

Sir I stand to support the second reading of the Foreshore and Seabed Bill.

When I entered Parliament in 1999 my old people told me stand strong and fight the fight. Little did I know then, that the Foreshore and Seabed (a place that was my playground as a child) would ever provoke such controversy.

The Foreshore and Seabed Bill as amended acknowledges the unique relationship Maori have with the coastline. Our tipuna signed the Treaty of Waitangi to seek Crown protection. I am satisfied that the provisions contained within the Bill honours their legacy.

There was an unrealistic expectation that Maori Caucus would deliver the entire foreshore and seabed to Maori ownership. It was an expectation that required much more than what we could provide.

Maori Caucus members have advocated strongly throughout the entire process for the recognition of Maori customary interests and the right for Maori to have their day in court.

The High Court may grant a territorial customary rights order to Maori groups, which may result in the establishment of a Foreshore and Seabed Reserve. For those not seeking a reserve status, the High Court will be able to direct them to the Crown to discuss redress options.
We believe the proposed amendments will recognise some of the most fundamental aspects that were raised during the Select Committee process.

No fee simple titles will be awarded to Maori groups which reflects the views of the majority of Maori that appeared before the Select Committee. We have been instrumental in strengthening the redress provisions around Territorial Customary Rights.

Maori caucus recognises that this Bill will not please the extremists. However we are confident that it caters to the wishes of the majority of Maori who take a more pragmatic view in progressing our development as a people.

The Resource Management Act is currently being reviewed and will be strengthened to recognise more effective consultation with local Maori over coastal areas. Maori caucus believes this will provide stronger recognition of the traditional association of whanau, hapu and iwi with the coast than the ancestral connection orders initially provided for in the legislation.

During the select committee process many submitters sought a longer conversation on the foreshore and seabed issue. However Maori Caucus believes this would have stymied aquaculture development projects that many coastal iwi around the country are exploring. As Maori caucus members representing a wide and diverse range of views we could not allow that to happen.

Maori caucus members have played an active role in the discussions on aquaculture, in setting aside 20 per cent of all marine farming space for Maori interests. Therefore we believe it was important that this opportunity not languish for another decade in much the same way as the Treaty of Waitangi Fishing allocation process did. The consequences of a long conversation would have meant a halt to aqua marine farming for years or even decades.

Our economic potential is immense and largely untapped in the marine industry. The opportunities for Maori are huge because this is a sunrise industry. We already own and manage almost 40 percent of the fishing industry. If we combine that with a 20 percent stake in the marine farming then we can expect Maori to be the single most influencial producers in this industry.

That's what effective representation is all about.

This Government has provided Maori with the lowest unemployment rate since records were taken 18 years ago.

There are 40-thousand more Maori in work now than when we took office. In the mid 90s almost 1 in 3 didn't have a job. Under this government we have provided a climate that means less than 1 in 10 are unemployed.

These are the types of everyday issues that Maori are concerned about. Indeed Maori aspirations are being recognised and catered to more effectively because Maori caucus members are at the decision making table.

Mr Speaker I just want to mention NZ First – with their support the Bill has backing by the majority of Maori members in this house. That is a significant level of support from members representing Maori across the board.

Maori Caucus is satisfied the Bill provides for Maori interests and we wish to acknowledge all of those who took part developing the legislation over the past 18 months. The consultation process was extensive and we did listen.

There is a section of society that believe we should have bought the government down. Mr Speaker we were sent here on a Labour ticket to advocate for Maori. We will not be put off that task. Our future must not be decided on an emotive level. We must apply a rational approach to the debate.

I have heard some outlandish rubbish being bandied around by the Turia Mob. Let me say that nothing in this bill will prevent Maori from going to the sea to take kaimoana. This is already provided for in the fisheries act. It allows kaimoana to be harvested for important hui and events.

Mr Speaker I am pleased to support the second reading of this Bill because it quite simply, is the right thing to do.

ENDS

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