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Turia: Third Reading Of Foreshore And Seabed Bill

18 November 2004

Speech For Third Reading Of Foreshore And Seabed Bill;

Tariana Turia, Co-Leader, Maori Party

I want to acknowledge the Chairs who have managed this process through the House.

I want to also recognise those who originally took their case to the Court of Appeal.

Today we are witnessing the Death of Democracy through the tyranny of the majority.

Mr Speaker, over the last two days this House has witnessed some desperate cries for credibility from the Maori members of the Government, whose Maori seats will be sacrificed by this Government to save the General Members’ seats.

Cries of Confusion. Cries of Complicity.

We heard the plea, ‘we need a vision of what New Zealand is today – not one of the 19th century’. Yet Mr Speaker, what this Bill does is take us right back to those days.

A period in the mid-1880s when this Parliament will recall a shameful history, where the majority of Maori males were not then eligible to vote on the general electoral roll. At that time we were the majority.

To be on the electoral roll males were required to hold a minimum amount of private property, whereas nearly all Maori then did not own property individually but communally.

What I would put to all Members today, is show me the difference between then and now.

This Bill is a discriminatory Act - treating private property rights as more important than customary property rights.

When I was a child, other children used to say ‘What’s mine is my own’. Now what Maori children will say is ‘What was mine is everybodys’.

This backroom deal with New Zealand First has made an absolute mockery of the select committee process. Only the privileged were listened to. That is, everyone except tangata whenua.

When Members try to convince us that this Bill is all about New Zealanders, they seem to forget that tangata whenua are also New Zealanders.

A collective group of New Zealanders who have special constitutional status by virtue of the relationship signed up to by all our ancestors. Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

We listen to members desperately trying to convince themselves that this Government is proud of the ongoing fiduciary obligation they have with tangata whenua.

The basis of a fiduciary relationship is that of trust.

Does anyone in this House honestly think tangata whenua will be fooled into thinking they can trust a Government which has sacrificed, extinguished, confiscated the last piece of customary land that we held by default?

The only fiduciary relationship we believe in is that vested between tangata whenua and the Crown in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Our position with respect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi is unequivocal – it is a cornerstone of the constitution of Aotearoa.

Well let’s look instead, at what this minority Government is pinning all its hopes on, the fiduciary relationship they will have with tangata whenua through the establishment of reserves.

Prospective groups must, in line with section 34c, make application to the High Court to apply for the establishment of a reserve.

If successful in their application the High Court then directs them to prepare a charter by which the Board will administer the reserve.

The High Court then directs, as set down in Section 34D (a) for the board to be established as a legal entity.

Then in Section 34D (b) the group has to present a charter to the High Court again, itemising a host of technical specifications for this new legal entity.

Such an exhaustive process for compliance, hardly represents to me an action of trust.

I recall the Minister for Treaty Settlements the other night, throwing off that during the Court of Appeal case while there were 34 lawyers acting in the interests of iwi, the Crown only needed four.

Of course she neglected to mention the huge departmental infrastructure available to the Crown, or the unlimited Public Purse.

What this Bill does is just add further to the labyrinth of legal processes that our people must push through.

In the case of New Zealand First, the party that has made its name out of criticising the so-called gravy train, they are now proudly standing by a legislative sham which sets into play an excessive reliance on lawyers.

We’ve gone from the gravy train to the whole railway network.

If our people aren’t going to be borne down with the weight of compliance costs, the confusion created by this legislation in its use of terminology will be the final straw.

This minority Government has tried to mislead our people by promoting the idea that Maori groups that would have won aboriginal title claims can now opt to become guardians of reserves.

Guardianship is about whakapapa, it’s about mana.

Contrast that with the meaning of guardianship in the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, to mean the ‘members of the board of a foreshore and seabed reserve’.

In other words, a concept which we see as intimately connected to kaitiakitanga, is reduced to ‘members of a committee’.

The terminology promulgated in this Bill for the concept of guardianship is totally devoid of any Maori interpretation.

Creating reserves in this Bill is just another way of trying to influence Maori to believe they will have a management right.

But all those reserves will be subject to the existing rights of access, and other laws, which protect the coastal areas, like the Resource Management Act.

This Bill further suggests that kaitiakitanga will be expressed through the review of the Resource Management Act. Given that Maori consultation has always been so poorly carried out in the context of that Act, what confidence can whanau and hapu have in this Bill?

So let me get this right.

This minority Government, with the full support of NZ First, is going to strip our people of their birthright, their customary property of takutaimoana; in exchange for what?

They expect us to willingly take on an arduous process of negotiating with local authorities to confirm a management plan.

What is even more bizarre is that the members of the board of the reserve, these so called guardians, are to do so for the benefit of the public.

And they are to manage the service with no capacity to receive any resources or other form of payment for any activities undertaken as specified in section 34b (2).

We’re not only being robbed but we’re being asked to do community service for the rest of our lives.

Maori have experienced the large-scale, legitimised theft of land through the policy of raupatu.

And yet we punish Maori and other New Zealanders who steal.

These are the double standards that serve to confuse and enrage our people.

Stealing land by Government is accepted as legitimate, whereas theft is punishable by law. The so-called One Law for All New Zealanders.

Mr Speaker, this nation is tired of double talk, of deliberate confusion, of unseemly haste. This nation is tired of the divisive intent of this Bill. This Bill never needed to happen.

This Bill was never about the fictional crisis that New Zealanders would not be able to go to the beach for Christmas. Tangata whenua have never denied access to others: it is not part of our philosophy.

We are not on about fences or gates. Those are the barriers built by this Government and now New Zealand First that will remain between the peoples of this land and our people and their land.

The issues have never been about contiguous use.

The issue is about tikanga, and that is what has been ignored.

In this Bill they have now created another situation for New Zealanders to be put through the hoop just to ‘be’. They have created a legal minefield, where processes are unnecessarily complicated, arduous, and cost-excessive.

Two simple changes could have been made to existing legislation.

Changes to the Ture Whenua Act to prevent the alienation of land. And we could have changed the Resource Management Act to give certainty to access.

A movement was born from this Bill and I mihi to a movement that looks to reflect the thousands of New Zealanders who marched on Parliament, the thousands more that spent hours and hours, writing submissions, the people who have travelled down here today, the others who are demonstrating their grief throughout the country.

The Maori Party vehemently, on behalf of all those we represent and for the sake of all our future generations opposes this Bill.

The fight for justice will continue. One law for all is about access to justice. This Bill is about Justice denied.

ENDS


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