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Doctor in day five of fast for foreshore

June 17, 2004

Doctor in day five of fast for foreshore

Dr Betsan Martin, the Pakeha Treaty educator and researcher who is fasting in support of shared governance of the seabed and foreshore, is in good spirits after five days of her seven-day water fast.

She has been walking along the foreshore from Oriental Bay to Frank Kitts Park at midday each day since Sunday, to make her point public.

She says bystanders have been very supportive, consistent with her experience as a Treaty educator for 20 years. "When Pakeha understand the injustices of our history - mostly created by Acts of Parliament - and how they have shaped our present lives, they are always keen to see a better relationship with tangata whenua."

She is making her stand against the Foreshore and Seabed Bill because it undermines the potential for a healthier relationship.

"It is pointless teaching people about the wrongs of the colonial past, if our governments continue to create them, " she says.

"We love, and have access to, the beach, because of the custody of these areas by tangata whenua. We need to be acknowledging their hospitality, rather than confiscating more of their land."

"We are denying the opportunity for building relationships of respect and aroha at a legal, political and constitutional level, qualities that many Pakeha experience first hand in our relationships with tangata whenua."

She says her fast has a simple purpose: to promote the idea of shared or co-governance, in the imagination of New Zealanders.

"The shared arrangements made for the management of Lake Taupo and the rivers, with titles to the lake and river beds held by Tuwharetoa, provides a model that could easily be applied to the Foreshore and Seabed."

She says finding constitutional provisions for tino rangatiratanga, or hapu-based governance alongside Crown governance, is the challenge for our generation. She says it is a challenge that could easily be achieved, and would enable Aotearoa to be governed with more stability, and wisdom.

"There is an enormous capacity for collaboration between environmental science, and the science of kaitiakitanga."

She says collaborative governance would also be another unique and progressive contribution to the international community - on a par with our votes for women and nuclear-free initiatives.

Dr Martin is part of a national network of Tauiwi Treaty educators, who at their conference last year agreed on the following statement:

Statement from Treaty Conference 2003

Tamaki Makaurau, October 2-4.

"The 15th Annual National Gathering of Pakeha and Tauiwi (non-Maori) Treaty Workers urges the Government not to introduce legislation based on its current proposals for the foreshore and seabed.

As Treaty educators we cannot support any law that breaches rights re-affirmed and guaranteed in the Treaty of Waitangi.

We support the Government's decision to wait for the recommendation of the Waitangi Tribunal.

We believe the Treaty relationship requires all New Zealanders to listen carefully to Tangata Whenua on this issue, as they have put forward alternative proposals that need to be fully considered by everyone.

We also urge the Government to explore enduring constitutional arrangements to enable just and fair negotiation with Tangata Whenua as equal parties to the Treaty."

This statement carries the endorsement of the following groups represented at the conference:

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

Waikato Anti-Racism Coalition

Manukau Institute of Technology Treaty Unit

Auckland Workers Education Authority

Tamaki Treaty Workers

Corso Dunedin

Network Waitangi Whangarei

aotearoa reality check

Peace Movement Aotearoa

Network Waitangi Otepoti

Rowan Partnership

Pax Christi Aotearoa NZ

Auckland Catholic Justice and Peace Office

Freedom Roadworks

Network Waitangi Otautahi

Pakeha Support Ngawha

Just US Associates Ltd

PISPP Inc

Bicultural Desk, Auckland Catholic Diocese

Oho Ake Network - Gisborne

Just Housing (Auckland) Trust

Network Waitangi Whanganui a Tara

An essay written by Dr Martin, today, June 17, 2004:

Fasting for the Foreshore

Betsan Martin PhD

Wellington and Turangi

June 17, 2004

Fasting for the Foreshore comes from shock at the impending confiscation of the Foreshore and Seabed. The extinguishment of customary titles will be judged by our children and their grandchildren with the same horror as the legal processes of confiscation of the 19th century. This Pakeha fast is to alert New Zealanders generally, recognizing that Government will go no further than the general opinion of voters.

New Zealand has the opportunity to bear the fruit of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and create relationships with tangata whenua that ensure continued customary governance. This includes support for kaitiakitanga as a culturally-integrated method of responsibility for people and the environment. It is possible to envisage indigenous governance, tino rangatiratanga, being implemented alongside governance from the western liberal tradition. These provisions come from Te Tiriti o Waitangi which provided for peoples of 2 world views to share Aotearoa respectfully by instituting systems that gave effect to these agreements.

A version of sovereignty as indivisible has been constantly invoked to quell legal and political space for tino rangatiratanga, and for a Tiriti based constitution. Sovereignty can be divided, as shown in Canada and the United States, and as legally argued by Justices Sian Elias and E. W. Thomas.

Growing roots and allowing the sap to rise to attain our full height keeps being prevented by ring-barking. The imagination of Pakeha and New Zealanders who have come as later settlers has been hamstrung by policies of assimilation and the constrictions of a mono-cultural world-view. Now, there is popular evasion of Te Tiriti or 'two peoples' principle as a basis for nationhood with the increasingly diverse population and our willingness to find ways to be hospitable to people who are coming here from different places. Diversity is about enabling diverse peoples to fit in to the prevailing ways of life. If you dig deeper, it positions 'Maori' with immigrant communities, flying in the face of the now internationally recognized status of indigenous people.

Legislation has been a means of confiscation since 1863. Pakeha Treaty educators refer to this history to bring an historical appreciation of Maori advocacy for Te Tiriti and a sense that the present has evolved from the foundations laid last century - a Foucauldian 'history of the present'. In our wildest dreams, it has never been considered that this history could be repeated. The Waitangi Tribunal seemed a symbol of a turn towards respect for Te Tiriti agreements. The tribunal has reported that the government Foreshore and Seabed proposals are in breach of the Treaty, yet the bill has proceeded into Parliament.

>From the beginning of the Foreshore and Seabed proposals I have been arrested by themes that are being replayed to appease the 'later settler' majority - themes that are recognizable since the inception of the 1835 Declaration of Independence. Majoritarian ideology of government became more insistent since 1858, when the settler population outnumbered that of the tangata whenua, and was asserted through ideas such as policy in 'the interests of all New Zealanders', one law for all, representative and then democratic rule.

Underlying these themes the assumption of Sovereignty being ceded to the Crown has been a central interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi. A theme that resurfaced recently was the difficulty of negotiating with 'Maori' because there is no central 'body' that represents them - an echo of the ideology of 'one' sovereign as the legitimate representative of a group of people. And so we saw consultation hui prescribed by government agenda and time frames to conform to the requirement to 'consult' with tangata whenua. It was a farce, in that no notice has been taken of the overwhelming collective voice of those who were consulted.

Public access to the foreshore and any other recreational environment is the issue that rallies an outcry from all New Zealanders who feel as risk of being shut out. But this is not a recent concern brought about for the Foreshore.

Public access was used to assert the 'interests of all New Zealanders' in Lake Taupo - a strategy through which the Taupo lake bed was transferred to the Crown against the wishes of Tuwharetoa in 1926. After 56 years of appeal, titles to the lakebed and river-beds were restored to Tuwharetoa. When you read the historical material, Crown ownership is really about control of resources - in this case the recreational resources attached to trout fishing. Public access has been beneficial to all NZers under the joint management arrangement

This week of fasting brings the opportunity to re-examine articles on the Foreshore and Seabed, and the bill before parliament. To comment on a few:

The vesting of the Foreshore and Seabed in the crown violates customary entitlements safeguarded under the doctrine of aboriginal title in common law. In legal discourse, even Crown sovereignty is 'burdened' by obligations to uphold customary titles. These can only be extinguished by an Act of parliament with the agreement of the customary owners.

It is abhorrent that customary orders and ancestral connection are o be nominated by the Maori Land Court. Here customary practice is being over-ridden by court defined entitlements, fracturing the integrated, wholistic economic, social and spiritual basis of hapu societies. If any court process is required in respect of customary orders it should be as an onus on the Crown to prove its acquisition of titles with documentary evidence.

The provision of the high court to recognize customary or aboriginal rights/titles that are now extinguished, is the most unethical treatment of customary entitlements that signal disdain for indigenous law and disregard for the cultural integrity of hapu.

It is implied that the replacement of iwi authorities by 'holders of ancestral connection orders' in the Resource Manangement Act introduces a diminished status that was accorded to Iwi Management Plans in the RMA.

Over all the Foreshore and Seabed bill heralds a litigious, adversarial future for tangata whenua and government, adding to the already entrenched burden of litigation upon tribes for settlement of grievances. These violations suppress the openings to evolving a vibrant Aotearoa-NZ possible from an interplay between our different traditions, and premised on en ethics of manawhenuatanga.

All these terms, such as ownership, exclusive titles, customary orders, ancestral connection are terms that are alien to the ancestral law of tangata whenua. They belie the pre-eminent value of property that derives from the liberal tradition, rendering obsolete the relational values and responsibilities of kaitiakitanga, manaakitanga, whakakpapa, tikanga, rangatiratanga, mana. as explained by Eddie Durie and others.

One insight from E. Durie: ' political power was vested in the basic community or hapu level. Power flowed from the people up and not from the top down. Control from a centralized or super-ordinate authority was antithetical to the Maori system. It is probably an understatement to say that Maori did not develop a central political agency, and more correct to assert that Maori ethic was averse to it. Where Europeans saw progress in the aggregation of principalities to form nation states, and the world followed suit, for the indigenous societies of Australasia and the Americas, local autonomy was more prized. .Tribal societies do not see themselves as an undeveloped embryo but as maintaining a way of life independent of the state as a matter of positive policy'.

Some of our eminent writers such as Judge Eddie Durie and Dame Anne Salmond are showing the way to a future where the worlds of Tikanga Maori and of the liberal tradition can meet in a spirit of generosity and eminent respect for the legacies of these traditions, as a basis for accommodating a new world in the Pacific, which traditionally has been hospitable to diverse populations.

Let the Foreshore bill be withdrawn. Let a new future be inaugurated which evolves from an ethic of upholding the wisdom of those who are indigenous to the Pacific, with honour given to the liberal traditions informing later settler institutions, and conditions created for shared governance.

ENDS

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