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Te Ururoa Flavell: Business Re-Instatement

Business Re-Instatement

Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki
Tuesday 9 December 2008; 7.30pm

The Maori Party is pleased to support the Government Notice of Motion number 4, to reinstate an enormous programme of legislation to be carried over to this Parliament.

And we are genuinely pleased that the work programme is crammed full of important issues to occupy this House of Representatives.

There is a range of very significant matters that we seek to make progress on during this term of Parliament.

Within the Maori Affairs portfolio there are four Maori Affairs Bills for consideration.

The immediate priorities are the Maori Trustee Amendment Bill and the Whakarewarewa and Roto-a-Takaheke Vesting Bill; both areas which have been of great interest to our constituency.

The Maori Trustee Amendment Bill is designed with the aim of creating a standalone entity and we think that is a good idea, but still more work to be done.

The other priority is the intention to progress legislation vesting Whakarewarewa Valley Land and Roto-a-Tamaheke Reserve - issues of considerable interest to Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao and Ngati Whakaue of the Te Arawa confederation.

We are obviously keen to advance the legislation to progress the Port Nicholson Block (Taranaki Whanui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika Claims Settlement Bill). There is also considerable interest, of course, in progressing the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu claims Settlement Bill particularly in view of the interest this legislation will have in regard to water ownership claims by various iwi.

And to that end I acknowledge Dr Cullen for the work he did in the treaty settlement area in the previous Government.

But I want to make particular reference to the Foreshore and Seabed Act Repeal Bill and the Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Bill; both pieces of legislation which came under attack from the opposition prior to the dinner break.

So I want to make a few things clear.

The Foreshore and Seabed Act of 2004 remains a festering sore in the hearts and minds of tangata whenua throughout the motu.

It was, indeed, the issue on which our party is established.

It was the issue which 40,000 New Zealanders marched on Parliament for; to be greeted by a Government which treated these people with an element of disdain.

It was the issue which still continues to motivate our artists and our writers, to speak out about the injustice dealt to Maori that day.

Injustices which the kapa haka teams throughout the country in competitions immortalise on stage.

Injustices which our younger generation are speaking out about in the Manu Korero competitions; speaking out to those who will listen. So e hoa ma, don€™t worry, it€™s not going away.

Some members of the opposition seem to want to chuckle and criticise the notion of mana enhancement.

Mana enhancement for the benefit of other members, is recognising that another party has a valid point of view, a different point of view.

Maori Marsden ascribed three broad interpretations to the notion of mana €“ mana atua, God-given power; mana tupuna - power from our ancestors €“ and mana tangata - the authority derived from personal attributes.

When mana whenua took the initiative to hikoi in opposition to the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, there was much at stake. The least that the Government could have done, was to listen. But instead, to their shame, their leader chose Shrek and the rest is history.

So that, Mr Speaker, is not a concept of mana enhancement that we want to be a part of.

I want to put on record, that the Foreshore and Seabed Act Repeal Bill is still a very significant piece of legislation on the order paper.

This Bill is about due process for Māori to verify ownership in the foreshore and seabed, the principle of equality before the law about righting injustice. It is also about principle and it is about leadership. It is about property rights.

It is a Bill which arose out of the decision made on 20 June 2003, when the Labour Government announced that steps would be taken to ensure absolute Crown ownership of sea land not privately owned.

They claimed to do this in the interests of all New Zealanders €“ and yet their 'New Zealanders' excluded tangata whenua.

Our Bill, the Foreshore and Seabed Act (Repeal) Bill provides us with the desperately needed space in our nation, to truly open up the debate, to listen to each other, and to re-create equitable access to justice.

Talking together is vital to our progress as a nation; hearing our different views is what will lead us forward.

And that, e hoa ma, is precisely what happened in negotiating the Relationship and Confidence and Supply arrangements commitment to review the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

A previous speaker, Dr Cullen, made an allegation that the Maori Party had failed to progress the Repeal Bill in the last Government. I want to set the record straight.

The Foreshore and Seabed Act Repeal Bill was selected for debate on 12 October 2006. Towards the end of 2006, my colleague Tariana Turia, was invited to speak at an international conference on the day the Bill was scheduled to come up for its first reading; and so a request was made for leave to reschedule the Bill at the next available appointment.

That time slot was never to appear. Each fortnight, we would watch with amazing regularity, how somehow our Bill would slip further down the order paper. And who ran the order paper? The Labour Government. Who slowed it up? The Labour Government.

One has to wonder why it was that the control of graffiti in Manukau; the vesting of Lancaster Park in Christchurch; the Bishop Suter Art Gallery in Nelson and the Auckland Domain Tennis Courts were accorded great importance; and the Foreshore and Seabed Act Repeal Bill kept getting shafted to the bottom of its pile.

That is not to say, by any means, that these matters were not important “ every issue that comes before Parliament has a special relevance to its community.

But our curiousity as a nation must surely be adjusted, when we wonder why it was that the Foreshore and Seabed Act Repeal Bill kept being relegated into low priority.

In light of this experience, can I say how positive it has been to have been invited to participate in a Government which is not afraid to face the tough issues.

Mana enhancement allows us to work together, through our differences, rather than shutting the door.

As part of working through our differences, we welcome the opportunity to review the application of the legislation to ascertain whether it adequately maintains and enhances mana whenua.

It is a rather dramatic turnaround of events that no-one could have predicted.

From a continual sliding down the order of priorities in one Government, to now working together with another Government to prepare agreed terms of reference for the review by 28 February 2009. Now, that is mana-enhancing.

If repeal is necessary, the Government will ensure there is appropriate protection in place to ensure all New Zealanders enjoy access to the foreshore and seabed, through existing and potentially new legislation. That is mana enhancing.

And so I want to assure the member from the Greens, Metiria Turei, that repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act is still a very firm fixture in our ongoing priorities, and we look forward to their support as we work through the review.

Policies of injustice do not fade away over time; they exist, persist and remain until rectified. And we intend to follow that through.

We are seeking the good will and the courage of Parliament, to open up an opportunity for the nation to debate a fundamental issue of human rights, property rights and access to justice Mr Speaker.

We celebrate the significant achievement we have made in negotiating an agreement in which the review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act is upfront, an absolute priority.

Our people have shown in the past 168 years that they respect the Courts of this land because they have, and continue to take their land rights issues through this process.

It is a sad day for this country when our property rights, access to justice through due process, is denied by Parliament.

So Mr Speaker, we have the chance to make wrong the rights, and we sincerely and genuinely believe that the agreement we have achieved with the National Government will allow us to succeed in the outcomes that we seek as a nation.

ends

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