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Hone Harawira open letter on Coastal and Marine Area Bill

Ae Marika!
A column published in the Northland Age
By Hone Harawira
Te Reo Motuhake o Te Tai Tokerau
22 March 2011

To comment on this column please go to my website

Geez folks, I hate to go on about it, but if I don’t put in one final plug for the Maori Party to pull their support for this Marine and Coastal Area Bill and it goes through, I’ll always wonder whether I should have had one more shot, so here goes …


Dear Tariana, Pete, Te Ururoa and Rahui,

I know you guys are probably still pissed off with me, but this Marine and Coastal Area Bill is bigger than all of us, so I’m writing to ask you to withdraw your support for it, for the very simple reason that it is bad for Maori.

I know it, I know that you guys know it too – because all of you at one time or another has said that “we know it’s not what our people want”, and that “our kids will have to fix it when they come along” and that “it’s the best that we can get”. And that’s no reason to support it.

And I know Chris Finlayson has put a lot of time and energy into drafting this bill, but so what? It still doesn’t include any of the things our people really want in it.

I had a look at the bill, and sure, I saw things like mana tuku iho and tikanga and all that, but when you look a bit deeper, the bill actually limits those principles rather than validates them, and locks them into a pakeha legal framework where they will die.

And it’s not just that. It’s the fact that the big stuff, like tupuna title, is missing.

I remember when Moana Jackson told us about it, how you smiled like “that’s what we’ve been lookin’ for”. I remember because I was grinning like an idiot, because it was so simple and yet I didn’t even see it, and I looked around to see if I was the only one, and I saw that you’d got it too.

And that’s where that stupid ‘burden of proof’ argument should have ended, because tupuna title is based on the simple line that “if the whole world knows we were here first, how come we have to go to court to prove it?”

But we let our useless bloody officials take tupuna title off the table, and next thing you know, we’re having to go to court to prove that we’re tangata whenua and that the takutaimoana was ours.

Yes, there’s a whole bunch of concessions in the bill, but that’s not we marched for. We marched for the big stuff. We marched to get our title to the foreshore and seabed back.

And that’s why I’m appealing to you guys to please, please let this go.

Go and see John Key and tell him -

“Sorry mate, but we just can’t do this. It’s not what we marched for in 2004, and it’s not what our people want in 2011. Our iwi leaders don’t like it, 95% of Maori submissions were against it, and truth be told John, we’re having a hell of a time getting anybody apart from Api to say anything nice about it at all. And if you want us to be around for the next coalition, then you got to let us off the hook on this one.”

And then give the man an out too -

“Tell you what John. Let’s announce that we will repeal the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act? Everyone will love us for that. And then we announce a moratorium on all foreshore and seabed development for 2 years to give Maori the opportunity to come up with a better deal than this. That way, the issue gets taken off the table in election year, everybody gets something out of it, and nobody has to back down.”

Repeal, moratorium, 2 year conversation.

C’mon team. That’s a decent compromise for everyone, and one that just might help you come election time.

See you in the house ...

Yours sincerely,

Hone Harawira
Te Reo Motuhake o Te Tai Tokerau


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