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Maori Party Warns Tangata Whenua

Maori Party Warns Tangata Whenua "Crown Confiscation Just One Day Away"

Te Ururoa Flavell, Treaty Spokesperson for Treaty Settlements

13 September 2006

Maori Party spokesperson for Treaty Settlements, Te Ururoa Flavell, has exposed Crown confiscation of Maori customary rights, hidden in a new legal invention; in his scrutiny of the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Bill.

Last night, in a rigorous, clause-by-clause analysis of the Lakes Settlement Bill, Mr Flavell called the Government to account for conjuring up a new term, the 'Crown Stratum'. "Contrary to the Government's paperwork, the term Crown stratum does not appear in the Land Act 1948, or indeed any other legislation" confirmed Mr Flavell, "it is a new legal invention, introduced for the first time, in this Bill".

In stating that "the Crown Stratum will remain in Crown ownership", the Bill extinguishes Te Arawa's customary rights to the water in their lakes, by vesting ownership of lake water in the Crown. "We want to know, how can the Crown retain ownership of something that it has not first proven ownership to in law? Surely this is a legal nonsense?"

"The irony of Associate Minister, Mita Ririnui's statement, that "the words are new, but the concept is not' will not be lost on the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who stood up against the Foreshore and Seabed legislation".

"Putting it another way, pinching is theft. Same concept, but different words" said Mr Flavell. "Contrary to the government's view, 'Crown stratum' is not an existing concept - it is a new concept and a new practice which is without legal clarification".

"The introduction of this new terminology is subterfuge by any other name. The Government has sneakily inserted a new concept into legislation by stealth; which could have devastating consequences for all New Zealanders, around the notion of water ownership" said Mr Flavell.

"The Maori Party is speaking out now, to warn New Zealand to beware of what lies in the murky depths of a Government polluted by power at all costs". Te Ururoa Flavell, introduced nine separate amendments, as part of his Supplementary Order Paper on the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Bill, which was considered in the committee stage of the House on 12 September 2006. A key amendment from Mr Flavell, to omit the definition of Crown stratum (page 17, lines 1 and 2) was supported by the Maori Party and the National Party; but opposed by the Labour Party, NZ First, Green Party, United Future and Progressives.

Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau, will be asking further questions about 'Crown stratum' in Question-time in the House, 2-3pm today.


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