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Hone Harawira - Speech

Resource Management (Restricted Coastal Activities) Amendment Bill

Hone Harawira

Wednesday 22 November 2006

This Bill is a little bit mischievous; an attempt to remove the veto powers of the Minister of Conservation.

The Bill is not specifically about Whangamata, although it does assume that the Minister’s decision to halt development of the Whangamata Marina brings the resource consent process into disrepute.

So I think it appropriate that we consider the background to that decision, to ensure the House is properly informed on the setting for this Bill.

Mr Speaker, I ask the House to recall that the Hauraki Maori Trust Board, Te Kupenga o Ngati Hako, Ngati Whanaunga, Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngati Tamatera, and the Whangamata Maori Komiti have been fighting for years to preserve the environment in and around Whangamata, and indeed, the cultural heritage of their whole area, and as part of that fight, they also opposed the marina development for the following reasons:

• Firstly, the marina would destroy traditional fishing grounds due to significant and ongoing dredging of the channel where their kaimoana grounds are. The harbours and estuaries are essential breeding, nursery and feeding grounds, a natural eco-system for kaimoana such as patiki, matamata and kuaka.
2. Secondly, the proposed carpark would destroy one of the few remaining wetlands in the area, a salt marsh which is home to important bird life.
3. Thirdly, destruction of the coastal environment would seriously impact the very identity of the local people, both Maori and Pakeha, for whom the local kaimoana beds have provided sustenance for many generations.
4. And finally, keeping the foreshore and seabed in its current state would guarantee access to the public of New Zealand, that a marina would destroy; a commitment that the Maori Party is proud to uphold in its Bill to Repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act which so divided our nation.

Mr Speaker, I don’t mind saying that surprisingly, the Minister came down on the side of the tangata whenua. Surprisingly, and grateful we are for that I might add, because a Minister of the Crown backing Maori on a Foreshore and Seabed matter is about as rare as some of the wildlife that is likely to be saved by this decision.
Be that as it may, the Minister’s decision dovetails nicely with the call from the Hauraki people that their rights of kaitiakitanga, and their rights to their kaimoana beds, were being threatened by the development plans.

And then guess what happens Mr Speaker? To nobody’s surprise at all, the pro-development brigade send somebody rushing in to Parliament to repeal section 119 of the Resource Management Act - the section which gives the Minister of Conservation the final word on coastal permits.

Mr Speaker, the RMA is a flawed document that could do with improvement, but its intentions are good, and its focus is clear – the protection and management of the nation’s resources. Its problem lies in how it is interpreted, and how it is used.
This Bill on the other hand, is simply an amendment to aid development.

Mr Speaker, the RMA has clear responsibilities to consult iwi on resource applications, discharge consents, and waahi tapu, in ways which will enhance our coastline and respect traditional beliefs.

The RMA also has the capacity to protect the environment, ensure Maori involvement in decision-making, and guarantee the public voice as well.
Enhancing those roles for the benefit of all New Zealanders is what this House should be addressing, rather than focusing on one bit that upsets developers.

Mr Speaker, if this Bill were to go through; if indeed the Minister’s decision is not upheld, Labour would effectively be in a situation of: denying public access to the foreshore and seabed; destroying the environment; and privatising resources; – all the things they said they wouldn’t do with their “Stealing the Foreshore and Seabed Act”.

And funnily enough, National, who opposed privatising public lands in the foreshore and seabed debate, will be similarly compromised.
Mr Speaker, I’d laugh if this wasn’t so tragic.

Mr Speaker, the 1991 Resource Management Act requires that the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi be taken into account in managing the natural and physical resources of Aotearoa.

This Bill will simply add to alienation of Maori from those resources over which they still have a say.
Mr Speaker, the Maori Party is not opposed to development, but we will oppose this Bill, because it is simply a reaction to a lost battle.
And in its place, we propose to ensure protection of Treaty rights, property rights, and genuine access for all New Zealanders to the Foreshore and Seabed, through our own Foreshore and Seabed (Repeal) Bill.


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