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Hone Harawira: We're Marching To Parliament

We’re Marching

“It’s on,” said Hone Harawira, organiser of the Far North leg of the March to Parliament to present a petition opposing the government’s foreshore and seabed legislation.

“It’s not like we want to be marching. We’ve got heaps to do at home, but at the end of the day you just can’t sit back and watch the government steal your lands, take away your rights, without doing something. You’ve got to act. You have an obligation to future generations to do something,” said Mr Harawira.

Mr Harawira said that Maori had opposed the Crown’s proposals at the consultation hui, written the submissions, been to Court, and even gone back to the Tribunal. “And yet,” he said, “at the end of the day, the government is persisting with its threat to go ahead with the legislation.”

“When the government’s own Treaty Unit, the Waitangi Tribunal, says Ogovernment’s foreshore and seabed policy breaches the Treaty in fundamental and serious ways. We are not prepared to suggest changes to the details of the policy S changes to details would not redeem it’, then you know there’s something seriously flawed with it,” said Mr Harawira.

Many Maori were not really clear on what the detail was all about, said Mr Harawira, but most knew that something was wrong. He said he had received emails from Maori living overseas saying they were sorry they couldn’t be there to march, daily phone calls from people asking when something was going to happen, and even approaches from kuia wanting to know when the march was coming through their town.

Mr Harawira said that the government was wrong to interfere with the Court of Appeal ruling, and wrong to try to stop the Maori Land Court from hearing Maori claims.

“It’s not like the Courts are on our side,” said Mr Harawira, “but at least you understand the process. When government comes bullying its way in from left field, threatening to change the rules to keep you out of the game even before the game starts, then you know you’re up against it.”

Mr Harawira said that the Crown proposals were in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi, and contrary to Tikanga Maori, Common Law, and even International Law. He noted that legislation aimed to deny Maori the right to have their claims heard in Court, reduce Maori rights to simple commercial interests, and limit maori rights to simple gathering.

“Government is introducing new rules to make it harder for Maori to claim their customary rights, and thanks to NZ First, they are also making it impossible for Maori to afford to pay for legal action against the Crown,” said Mr Harawira. “The funny thing is you can get legal aid if you murder someone, but not if you want to claim rights you have held for hundreds of years.”

“So yes ­ we’re marching. To do less would be to surrender. It’s all we have left. We have so little, that what is left is very precious, and something we have to stand up for.”

“We’ve just had a con-call with organisers fromall around the country, and the word is go.”

The march will be leaving from Te Rerenga Wairua [Cape Reinga] on Thursday 22 April, and pass through Ahipara, Kaitaia, Mangamuka, Kawakawa, Whangarei, Wellsford, Auckland, Huntly, Hamilton, Rotorua, Taupo, Turangi, Raetihi, Whanganui, Levin, Otaki, Porirua, to arrive at Parliament on May 5th, said Mr Harawira. “We will be joining up with Ngati Kahungunu, who have already planned to march on Parliament, and we hope to march the last leg together, where we can present our petition to those who will listen.”

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