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Harawira: Dog Control mendment Bill

Dog Control (Cancellation of Micro-Chipping Requirements) Amendment Bill

Hone Harawira, Member for Te Tai Tokerau

Wed 17 May 2006

Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Maori Party, I would be happy to support any Bill that would put a stop to this micro-chipping dogs mania sweeping through the House. Unfortunately though, I don’t think this Bill will achieve that.

As Jane Clifton recently noted, the debacle around microchipping has been a regular dog’s breakfast - with National and United Future begging for scraps with their various amendments and exemptions, Labour howling at the moon over their ‘one law for dogs’; and even the normally serene Greens seem to have been caught up in it as well.

Indeed the frenzy and ferocity of the debate reminds me of that song ‘who let the dogs out’ - a Caribbean reference to disrespectful men who hit on women; and now a Kiwi reference to disrespectful politicians who hit on poor defenceless dumb dogs.

Well - the Maori Party won’t be a party to this madness, because we’ve been here before, and I refer here to the infamous Dog Registration Act of the late 1800’s.

As the member for Tai Tokerau, the history of the Dog Tax - and its forceful imposition in the Hokianga, is etched on our tribal memory.

The Hokianga County Council decided to impose a dog tax of two shillings and six pence, per dog, per owner.

The people of Waima refused to pay; their dogs were their own affair, not the property of government or council. They were threatened with arrest; they were even threatened with banishment from their homelands - over a dog tax!!

The people eventually marched on the County headquarters in Rawene to make their case, and government responded with its usual overdose of power, by dispatching 120 soldiers, two field guns, two maxims and a gunboat to deal to the natives.

A little bit like a politician who in 2003 misread the feelings of the natives, tried to stop a hikoi of 40,000 by calling everyone haters-and-wreckers, and then, when she realised she had failed, closeted herself away with a daggy old sheep she called Shrek; and then overdosing her response by ramming through the Foreshore and Seabed Act from which was born the Maori Party who rise every day to remind her of the foolishness of her ways.

In the midst of the Dog Tax War, my whanaunga Hone Heke, left parliament and headed home to help defuse the situation.

Yet it was all in vain.

The people were arrested, imprisoned in Mt Eden for treason, the Dog Tax remained, and government stopped Hone Heke’s parliamentary pay while he was away, even though Premier Dick Seddon said that he “could recognise the patriotic and pure motives that prompted him [Hone Heke], and the interest he had in his race”.

I have gone back to that incident in Hokianga, because I know that in another hundred years, people are going to look back at this microchipping lunacy, and wonder what on earth was going through our minds that we could spend so much time trying to keep tabs on dogs, while hundreds of thousands of our own citizens were living below the poverty line.

I can see the Federated Farmers marching against this madness, just like my tupuna did one hundred years ago; I can see local councils doing everything they can to not comply with this stupidity, just as the Waima police refused to collect the dog tax of 1898; and unless some sanity prevails in this House, I can see some poor bugger ending up in jail to satisfy the cravings of some lunatic for whom microchipping dogs has a higher priority than the health of the nation's humans.

This proposed micro-chipping mess is like the movie “Dumb and Dumber”.

Microchipping dogs is a DUMB idea anyway, but trying to identify the “dangerous and menacing” ones so that you only microchip them is even DUMBER.

I know that Mr Parekura Horomia can identify with the following story …

I can just see it now … some poor, weedy little dog control officer knocking on the gate of the local pad, and saying “Excuse me sir, but I’ve come to see whether your dogs are dangerous and menacing, in line with government’s requirement that they be microchipped.”

“Who the #$&%^&(!!! do you think you are you little nerd !!! Get outta here before I microchip you, you #$&%^&(!!! little creep”.

Dogman races off to change his pants, and summons up the courage to get the local cop to come along for protection - like the cops have got the time for this silliness. Next day they turn up, to one of two scenarios:

1 Nobody’s there because they’ve moved the dogs somewhere else, or

2 The whole street is there with every dog they can get their hands on, and all spoiling for a fight.

Mr Speaker - YES the Maori Party wants a healthy society where the public are not threatened by dangerous and menacing dogs, and YES we will support this Bill to First Reading to try to generate some light on this sad affair.

But, out of respect to Hone Heke and his whanaunga who stood against this madness in 1898, the Maori Party would urge this House to oppose this madness in 2006.


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