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Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Maori Purposes Bill; Maniapoto Maori Trust Board; Maori Trust Boards; Treaty of Waitangi; Te Ture Whenua Maori

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Thursday 15 May 2008, 5.30pm

Can I first of all acknowledge the Government for letting me jump the queue.

I would just like to welcome our people here, to this whare.

They have come not because they are law-breakers; they have come as law-makers; their physical presence a sign of their commitment to working with the process to make a difference.

And I am reminded that 140 years ago, this year, a man of Ngai Te Ruruku, Ngati Matepu and Ngati Parau stood in this House as the first Maori Member of Parliament to speak.

My tipuna, Tareha te Moananui, in his opening address, urged the government to enact wise laws to promote good, and for Maori and Pakeha to work together.

The various whanau, hapu and iwi who stand to be most affected by the undertakings in these Bills gathered under the concept of Maori Purposes, are still urging the government toenact wise laws to promote good.

In the case of the Maori Purposes, we recognize there are many positive enhancements to administrative arrangements included in the series of Bills.

We do, of course, support the proposal to confirm a consistentminimum voting age of eighteen years, as proposed in the Maori Trust Boards Act.

In the second reading of the Bill we raised the facts around the demographics of the Maori population, namely that 46% of our population are under nineteen years of age.

In light of this factor, and considering the value of consistency with other legislative and statutory provisions around age, we are very happy to support the amendment to specify a new minimum voting age of eighteen years.

Another element within the series of four Bills, is the important developments that have emerged from years, indeed decades of negotiation between Crown and the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board.

This amendment reflects part of the compensation due to the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board in settlement of the Trust Board’s property rights in Lake Taupo.

It sets in place a process by which the Board, as the owner of the bed of Lake Taupo, is able to license and charge other commercial users, including those wanting to erect new jetties or structures.

The Maori Party wants to take this opportunity to congratulate and commend Tuwharetoa for their endurance in the journey towards self-determination.

And we do, of course, look forward to their further success in the future, as they come back to the Crown to establish their rights of ownership of not just the space above the water, but the water itself.

Another major feature of this Bill that we support is the proposal to amend the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 to increase the statutory cap on the membership of the Waitangi Tribunal from sixteen to twenty.

Indeed, this is a specific proposal which derives its source from our 2007 Budget recommendation to enhancethe role of the Waitangi Tribunal so that they can deal with claims more speedily.

The Maori Party has actively advocated for the Tribunal to be resourced sufficiently so that it can work fulltime.

We appreciate the response that the Government has made to our proposal, and welcome the improvements that will arise.

It would almost appear that the challenge of my ancestor, Tareha Te Moananui,to enact wise laws to promote good, is finally being taken up.

There is, however, the matter of Mokai Kainga.

According to Ngati Hikairo, the Bill as it stands includes a proposal which will have a direct impact on their traditional tribal boundaries.

Tony Spelman, spokesperson for Ngati Hikairo advised the Select Committee that the Bill would have the effect of extending Ngati Maniapoto authority into its area without any reference to the mana whenua rights of Ngati Hikairo.

There was a concern that the groups that Te Puni Kokiri had consulted about this matter were the Maniapoto Maori Trust Board and Mokai Kainga marae, and the advice they fed back to the select committee was therefore limited in excluding Te Runanganui o Ngati Hikairo from their report.

As Deputy Chair of the Maori Affairs Select Committee I was always concerned that we had a quality of information available from Te Runanganui o Ngati Hikairo and Ngati Maniapoto in order to assist in our deliberations.

And so we were pleased when Te Runanganui o Ngati Hikairo and Nga Tai o Kawhia came forward with a proposal to address their concerns, by means of a simple insertion within the Bill.

The suggestion was that the Bill recognize, and I quote;

“that Ngati Hikairo through Te Runanganui o Ngati Hikairo exercises a mana whenua relationship within the Kawhia rohe, and that nothing in this bill shall be interpreted as diminishing their mana whenua status in that rohe”.

We have learnt also that Ngati Hikairo are committed to working with Nga Tai o Kawhia, the Regional Management Committee established under this Bill, to ensure that how it will all work in practice will not diminish their mana whenua.

The Ministerhas assured us that there was no intention to redefine the boundaries for Ngati Hikairo.

However, a Minister’s intentions and the actual interpretation of the law can be vastly different things, and if the law this Bill sets in place does not, in practice, represent a wise law to promote the collective good – then it would be appropriate that the amendment suggested by Ngati Hikairo and Nga Tai o Kawhia return to this House.

The Maori Party is consistently overwhelmed with the willingness of whanau, hapu and iwi to demonstrate manaakitanga, to live by time-honoured practices that reflect and respect the status of relationships with each other.

We acknowledge Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Hikairo and Nga Tai o Kawhia for their efforts to work with the process, to do all that they can to ensure their concerns are heard, and to work productively for the benefit of the Kawhia rohe and its people.

We believe that the issues between Mokai Kainga marae, between Ngati Hikairo and Ngati Maniapoto belong with the people themselves. It is their authority, their mana, which will ultimately sort any unresolved issues through. Kei a koutou te tikanga.

Finally, it would be extremely disappointing if any party chose to object to the request from Maniapoto Council of Elders that their name be amended fromTe Mauri o Maniapoto toTe Kaumatua Kaunihera o Maniapoto.

It is their prerogative and absolute right to determine the name they want to be called by, and Parliament must honour that desire of the people.

The Maori Party has given this series of Bills, careful and comprehensive consideration. Whilst there are the limitations around the coverage of the issues put forward by Ngati Hikairo, we are satisfied that on balance, there is sufficient merit throughout all the other proposals, to support these Bills at their third reading.

And in conclusion I repeat to this House"I te mutunga ake kei nga iwi nei te tikanga". Kia ora tatou.


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