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Päkehä support Mäori customary title

Päkehä support Mäori customary title

Päkehä support Mäori customary title - open letter to Helen Clark, Michael Cullen and Margaret Wilson

Peace Movement Aotearoa,

PO Box 9314, Wellington.


YWCA Aotearoa-New Zealand

PO Box 9315, Wellington.

28 July 2003.

Open letter to:

Helen Clark, Prime Minister;

Michael Cullen, Deputy Prime Minister;

Margaret Wilson, Attorney-General, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi


Dear Ms Clark, Dr Cullen and Ms Wilson,

We are profoundly concerned by the Government's response to the Court of

Appeal's judgment in respect of Ngati Apa and Others v Attorney-General and

Others, issued on 19 June 2003. The matter before the court was an appeal

by the eight Iwi at the top of the South Island for their claim to the

Marlborough seabed and foreshore (the area between high and low tide marks)

to be considered by the Mäori Land Court.

The Court of Appeal judges were unanimous in their decision that the claim

should be put before the Mäori Land Court for consideration; and that Mäori

customary title to seabed and foreshore has never been legally extinguished.

In response, on 23 June 2003 an announcement was made that the Government

would legislate to assert the Crown's ownership of seabed and foreshore,

and to extinguish Mäori customary title.

We are deeply troubled by this, as it:

a) Breaches due legal process by preempting a future decision of the Mäori

Land Court;

b) Fosters social disharmony by implying that there is something scary

about Mäori customary title to seabed and foreshore, and that public access

to beaches is now at risk;

c) Misleads by failing to acknowledge that since 1840 it has been private

owners, commercial enterprise and government agencies, rather than Iwi and

Hapü, who have denied public access to beaches. Tangata Whenua have not

excluded others, provided wahi tapu are respected and natural resources are

not damaged or depleted;

d) Demonstrates a monocultural view of 'ownership' by suggesting that Mäori

customary title is somehow the same as private ownership; and

e) Ignores the historical reality that customary title existed long before

European settlement and was reaffirmed by the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840;

that Mäori have never consented to the extinguishment of customary title,

and that Tangata Whenua consent would be required before this could happen.

For example, the Court of Appeal judgment quoting from a passage approved

by the Privy Council: ... "it cannot be too solemnly asserted" that native

property over land is entitled to be respected and cannot be extinguished

("at least in times of peace") otherwise than by the consent of the

owners." [Ngati Apa and Others v Attorney-General and Others, 19 June 2003:16]

We record our support for the Declaration on the foreshore and seabed that

was issued at the Paeroa hui of Iwi and Hapü on 12 July 2003, which

reaffirms that the foreshore and seabed have always been under the

jurisdiction of Iwi and Hapü as part of the authority of tino rangatiratanga.

We consider any legislation to extinguish customary title to be an

extraordinary breach and dishonouring of the Treaty of Waitangi by the Crown.

We therefore strongly urge you to abandon any plan to extinguish customary


We appreciate that there are issues around private and foreign ownership of

coastal property, public access, and commercial exploitation of foreshore

and seabed resources that need to be addressed.

However, we are united in our belief that extinguishing Mäori customary

title is not the way to go about this.

Yours sincerely,

Edwina Hughes, Coordinator, Peace Movement Aotearoa

Janine Ahie, Executive Director, YWCA of Aotearoa-New Zealand

Gillian Southey, Christian World Service;

Leigh Cookson, Director, ARENA;

Catriona Budge, Anne Wells, Elizabeth Thompson, and Kathy Lys, Päkehä Women

for the Treaty, Wellington;

Joan Macdonald, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

(Aotearoa - New Zealand);

Moea Armstrong, Tim Howard, Joan and Russ Cook, Kathryn McKenzie, Don Ross,

Pat and Les Gray, Carol Peters, Ange Jones, Cheree Corban, Network Waitangi


Mitzi Nairn, Marisa Maclachlan, Susan Healy, Ingrid Huygens, Richard Green,

Sue Vugler, Catherine Smith, Maxine Revell, and David Tutty, Tamaki Treaty

Workers, Auckland;

Adrienne Ross, Gywn John, Abigael Vogt, and Jennifer Margaret, arc

(aotearoa reality check);

Charmaine Pountney, CNZM, Awhitu;

Tim Jones, Writer, Wellington;

Prue Hyman, ARENA Trustee, Paekakariki;

Sue Watson, Wellington;

Geraldine Harvey, Rotorua;

Elena Ilalio, Nelson;

Don Polly, Paekakariki;

Ngaire Rae, Whangarei;

Simon Delahunt, Wellington;

Jo Cottrell, Hamilton;

Jim Holdom, Hamilton;

Tanya Cumberland, Awhitu;

Marion Sanson, Wellington;

Sue Abel, Bay of Islands;

Catherine Amey, Wellington.

cc (by email): Parekura Horomia, Minister of Mäori Affairs; Tariana Turia,

Associate Minister of Mäori Affairs; John Tamihere, Associate Minister of

Mäori Affairs; Metiria Turei, Green Party Mäori Affairs Spokesperson.

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