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High Commissioner Causes Concern

14 June 2005

High Commissioner Causes Concern

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party

The Maori Party is deeply concerned that another High Commissioner appointed by the Labour Government is unable to comprehend the importance of their role and status as a representative of this country.

"Just last month former long-serving Labour MP Jonathan Hunt bunked an Anzac Day service at the national cenotaph because it was raining and "he didn't want to get wet" stated Tariana Turia, co-leader of the Maori Party.

"This is the same top diplomat who wanted to apply for the British pension, despite drawing a salary of over $200,000 in his role as High Commissioner".

"We now learn that Graham Kelly, New Zealand's High Commissioner to Canada has let loose with a mouthful of comments which are clearly offensive to tangata whenua, ethnic communities, conservation and environmental groups, and the international reputation of New Zealand".

In his presentation to a standing senate committee on fisheries and oceans, Mr Kelly made the following comments:

On the Maori population: "There were seven canoes that came in 740 from Hawaiki, so there are seven tribes. They all held each other's hands to stop them from sinking on the voyage. Once they got to New Zealand they started fighting and eating each other, so there have been Maori wars ever since then".

On Maori working in the fishing industry: "the skills have been taught to those people, otherwise they would have gone out in a canoe or something".

On ethnic communities" : "Our new immigrants from Asia are one of our biggest problems, with their lack of understanding of conservation and the environment. We often see them strip-mining a beach of periwinkles and having a boil up. You have to have a method by which the ethnic communities are not favoured".

On Maori exercising customary rights: "They are entitled to fish beyond the recreational limit for events like funerals or special celebrations. There will always be some who stretch that definition beyond anything that you would believe. Occasionally they are caught and they claim their rights under the treaty".

On conservation groups: "You also have to consult with the 'greenies' and environmental groups, who drive you to distraction, when you are trying to deal with this and are always in your face".

There was one statement that the Maori Party would concur with:

"The Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840 with the British Government, guaranteed them their fisheries, forests and lands. That was subsequently ignored and they lost nearly all of them".

The co-leader of the Maori Party, Tariana Turia, is calling for the immediate resignation of Graham Kelly from the High Commissioner post.

"Mr Kelly himself admits he is 'unashamedly patronising'. In the light of the findings from one of the most significant human rights bodies in the United Nations that the Foreshore and Seabed Act discriminates against Maori, these fresh comments do nothing to restore our international standing".

"The decision to ignore the UN Finding has already aggravated our position. The Prime Minister must act now, to withdraw Mr Kelly from his position, and to address the embarrassment and shame his comments have caused".

"This is a man from a trade union background who has enjoyed the support of Maori and Pacific communities to keep him in Parliament. We call for these communities to recommend to the Prime Minister, that Mr Kelly be recalled home for his inability to represent fairly the interests of all New Zealanders in the position he has been appointed to".

"Questions may also be asked as to whether Mr Kelly is in breach of his contractual obligations in making such inflammatory remarks".

"This is the problem when political parties choose their cronies to take up key international positions overseas, and when these so called representatives continue to abuse their power at the cost of the ordinary citizen".

ENDS

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