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Turia: Marine Reserves (Consultation) Amendmt Bill

Marine Reserves (Consultation with Stakeholders)

Amendment Bill: First Reading

Wednesday 17 May 2006

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party

The Maori Party will support this Bill, in line with our principle that we believe in the right for people to have a say.

In its purpose and intention, the commitment to amend the Marine Reserves Act 1971 to ensure early consultation in the preparation of any application for the declaration of a marine reserve, is positive.

We encourage any opportunity for people to participate - for voices to be heard.

Consultation is a key concept in honouring the Treaty relationship.

I want to be quite clear that when we are talking consultation we are not meaning the type of consultation exercises that may occur with interest groups such as fisher-people, surfers, skiers, tourist operators and so on.

Let me say in this House: Mana whenua are not an interest group.

They are the Treaty partner, and as such consultation for the preparation of a marine reserve application must always be inclusive of any group that represents mana whenua interests.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi provides for the exercise of kawanatanga while actively protecting tino rangatiratanga of mana whenua in respect of their natural, physical and spiritual resources.

In order to exercise governance; and to protect and preserve the full authority of mana whenua, consultation must be respected, and an honourable process followed.

A considerable body of case law has developed on the principles of consultation. The leading case is that through the Court of Appeal case, Wellington International Airport v Air NZ.

The more recent Land Air Water Association v Waikato Regional Authority decision also specifically discusses the principles of tangata whenua consultation.

Whilst I am sure that all members know these two foundation pieces of legislation intimately, let me recap. At its essence, consultation demands that the parties involved act reasonably and in good faith. In practice, this means entering into the process without having first made up your mind about every aspect of your position. It means having respect for the issues - not just doing the numbers.

From our point of view, any proposal which stops the politicians from running roughshod through communities has to be a good thing.

What this Bill will do is to put a process in place by which through consultation, the applicant must explore ways in which the application may avoid or mitigate adverse effects on existing uses of the area of the proposed marine reserve.

This may rectify or avoid such disasters as have occurred for mana whenua in the past.

Disasters such as in June 2005 when Conservation Minister Chris Carter’s announced the establishment of a marine reserve off Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf with scant or neglible regard for the interests of the mana whenua.

The taking of Kaikoura Island and the Ngati Wai Islands represented the very worst of processes possible in the setting up of marine reserves without consultation.

Ngati Wai and Ngati Rehua exercise mana whenua over the north-east coastal area. Ngati Maru also has an interest in the north east coast and marine areas.

These were not dis-interested parties. These are groups who had offered an alternative strategy which would provide a partnership approach for marine protection.

Ngati Wai were committed to working with the Government in the interests of marine protection. They had also suggested a co-management approach.

Instead the rug was literally pulled out from under their feet - and subsequently they were forced to take action in the High Court to challenge the decisions from on high about offshore islands and marine reserves.

Mr Speaker we must not cut across mana whenua rights. We must hear the voices of the people - the hapu and iwi - not any so called large, unnatural clusters formed for political expediency.

We must also stop the relentless theft of property rights. And if this Bill can provide the stop in time to really address Treaty based rights, we will be doing well.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party will support this Bill going forward to select committee, to ensure appropriate representation and input of mana whenua in decision-making in their rohe will be provided for.


ENDS

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