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Flavell: Validation Bill

Gisborne District Council (Alfred Cox Park) Validation Bill [in committee] Te Ururoa Flavell;

Member of Parliament for Waiariki 28 June 2006 [delivered at 4.14pm] In the Maori Party's first opportunity to speak on this Bill, at its second reading, we opposed it. Our reason for doing so - was in line with our reason for opposing any Bill - if we do not believe that it would defend the rights and advance progress for, tangata whenua.

We believe that it is in the interests of Aotearoa, that each and every development reflects the unique perspectives that come from consultation with tangata whenua. Our aspirations for advancing any initiatives will reflect our belief that an appropriate and mandated consultation process has been undertaken in formulating ideas. We understand Consultation as defined by Justice McGechan; and I quote: "Consultation does not mean negotiation or agreement. It means:

* setting out a proposal not fully decided upon;

* adequately informing a party about relevant information upon which the proposal is based;

* listening to what the others have to say with an open mind (in that there is room to be persuaded against the proposal);

* undertaking that task in a genuine and not cosmetic manner. Reaching a decision that may or may not alter the original proposal." When Dr Sharples came to the second reading of the Bill, he raised the issue of consultation with Rongowhakaata.

It was our position - as set out in his korero - that given that Rongowhakaata had a key interest in the land associated with the Gisborne District Council (Alfred Cox Park) Validation Bill; their voices must be heard.

That was our first opportunity to talk on the Bill.

The first reading of the Bill was on 27 July 2005 - when the Maori Party had only one Member of Parliament - a Member who was not allocated a speaking slot in the debate.

So it was disappointing to read the comments made by the Member sponsoring this Bill, that she was angered at the last minute efforts, and supposed political grand-standing. But I think we have worked through that.

I would imagine that such anger might be the same for Rongowhakaata.

If we are to move forward as a nation, we must respect the important perspectives that come from the first nation people of the land.

Rongowhakaata have a significant association and history with the land implicated in this Bill. It is a history that probably many others in this House may be unfamiliar with - but which, none the less, is part of the history of Aotearoa.

Mr Chair, we will stand up for the right of all Maori to be heard in this House - as we do today stand for Rongowhakaata.

We do so in our belief, that a prosperous future for Aotearoa will involve us all, working together, to share our different histories, and to focus through our differences, on what we can also share together.

I cannot comment on what happened before I came into the House; all I know is what is ahead of me right now.

The issue of consultation is something that affects all Maori, and we have a concern in the sense that a historical context tells us there are all sorts of consultation.

Sometimes though, consultation does not allow Maori to fully express their views and points of view. In fact, sometimes it does not even involve them.

Thus, there is a concern to ensure that all we are asking is for the bill to be taken back, and to get sign-off.

I do not know whether Rongowhakaata agrees or disagrees - but the issue we are raising is that we should have the korero - have the korero and bring the sign-off back to the House, such that we can be convinced, as the party that is defending the rights and advancing the interests of Maori people in the best interests of the nation, so we can say, yes, we did our part.

That is really the main issue here.

Whether members of the Maori Party are or are not on the council, and whether there was a liaison officer, or whatever, are really secondary issues. At the end of the day we are asking for the discussion to have taken place, such that Rongowhakaata can advise us that the discussion has taken place, they are happy with the discussion, and they will certainly move towards supporting any initiative that allows our people to move forward in a positive manner.

I will not talk about any select committee process, because I was not involved, but I do want to make the point that as a small party - as other smaller parties will know - we cannot cover all of the ground or every issue that comes up in this Parliament. All we can do is respond to the matters that happen to arrive on our table - and that is what we are doing today.

So this is not to say that it is the end of the world, or that, politically, we are doing a grandstanding act.

But it is saying that we will continue to defend the rights of Maori, and to ensure that our processes are robust, and that Maori are given the opportunity to respond in the positive or negative. That, surely, is a part of their right.


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