Tangata whenua rally to protect foreshore
Tangata whenua rally to protect Whangamata foreshore and seabed
Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party 1 July 2008
The occupation of Whangamata by tangata whenua is an indictment on the failure of the Crown to protect the natural values of the foreshore and seabed for future generations, says the Maori Party.
“In the end, responsibility will always return to tangata whenua to try to maintain the environment, the history and culture, the public access, even the kaimoana, for all peoples and for future generations,” said Co-leader Tariana Turia.
“The proposed Whangamata Marina would pave over the natural coastline for carparks, dredge out the shellfish beds for a shipping channel, establish wharves, fuel depots, jetties and amenities for the yachts and launches of the wealthy – and lock out the general public,” said Mrs Turia.
“Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Whanaunga, Te Kupenga o Ngati Hako, the Whangamata Maori Komiti and other iwi groups have all opposed this bulldozer-based development from the outset, but their concerns have been overruled throughout the planning and consent process.
“Tangata whenua everywhere know the feeling that the odds are stacked against local communities, who cannot afford to keep paying top lawyers for years and years while these cases drag through the system,” she said.
“The Department of Conservation also opposed the development, and the Minister overruled the planning consent. But in the end, they are powerless to stop this destruction – because Chris Carter and his colleagues passed the Foreshore and Seabed Act.
“English statutory law, administered by the Crown, is designed to protect private property rights. It is customary law that upholds the public interest, but the customary rights of tangata whenua were extinguished by the Foreshore and Seabed Act. My Bill to repeal this Act is, of course, opposed by the government.
“DoC’s participation in the removal of endangered skinks from their natural habitat, to be relocated elsewhere, is another slap in the face for tangata whenua.
“These skinks belong where they are, and nowhere else. They represent a living link with an indigenous past. The skinks are kaitiaki, and any development that drives them out is destroying the history and culture of the place, and attacking the mana and identity of tangata whenua.
“The Maori Party understands and supports the logic that is driving the tangata whenua of Whangamata to defend their land and mana to the bitter end, and we hope that tangata whenua everywhere will rally to their support.