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Public Picnic on Private Pakeha Property


Public Picnic on Private Pakeha Property

Members of the Whangarei Anti-Racism Coalition set up camp on the privately owned Ngunguru Sandspit today.

Other members gave out information on how the seabed law breaches human rights, and collected signatures on a "Give it back - repeal the seabed law" petition at the local shopping centre..

Spokeswoman Ange Jones said the picnic protest was a symbolic act of passive resistance to the racist law, which came into effect on January 17. She says customary collective ownership of seabed resources, taken from tangata whenua by the law, must be restored.

"We also need a constitution which enshrines Treaty rights, to prevent further divisive and racist Bills from becoming law," she said.

The group is responding to a survey, recently publicised by Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen, purporting to show a tiny sample of people are mostly happy with the new law.

The peaceful "hands across the Treaty breach" action was designed to counter the idea that non-Maori New Zealanders accepted what had been done in their name.

Ms Jones said the law had been passed on the back of so-called Pakeha fears about access to beaches. Ngunguru Sandspit owners over the years had tried to stop people landing, but there were no known local instances where tangata whenua with riparian rights, had ever denied public access.

"The real reason the law was passed was to take seabed resources from Maori and enable them to be privatised via Crown ownership."

"Dr Cullen's dreaming if he thinks Pakeha aren't still concerned that the ancestral ownership rights of tangata whenua have been violated.

"Restitution for their loss will eventually have to be paid, or the seabed returned.

"Unlike the Labour Government, we trust tangata whenua to sustainably manage seabed resources for the benefit of local communities."

The group is planning further occupations of "private" beaches.

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Repeal this Racist Law !!

Repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 !!

Deputy PM Michael Cullen provocatively quoted a survey concluding – from a tiny sample surveyed – that people are mostly happy with the new law. NOT SO ! Most Maori – and many Pakeha – are most unhappy with this law. That’s why some of us are here today at this “Public Picnic on Pakeha Private Property” at Ngunguru.

We don’t want this racist law on our books. It undermines all our relationships!

The Act extinguishes Maori customary rights in the foreshore and seabed. It does so in a way fundamentally at odds with Te Tiriti o Waitangi and even with the Crown’s own “principles of the Treaty”. Legal remedies for Maori losing their collective rights are removed in this Act. They are replaced by new remedies even more abhorrent to tikanga Maori. These limited ‘rights’ will be expensive, unobtainable and – in the end – worthless to those holding customary rights.

None of this negativity applies to the various rights held by individuals – including what may be called “Pakeha Private Property” rights. It only applies to Maori collective rights. So the Foreshore and Seabed Act and related laws are by definition RACIST.

And the effect of this law is racist. All the negative impacts of the Act fall upon Maori, no-one else. Nowhere in the Act are Pakeha, private owners, local or central government obliged to prove their rights and title, at some huge cost to themselves, with uncertain outcomes - as are Maori.

“It has always been assumed that the foreshore and seabed were in the Crown’s hands” said Deputy PM Michael Cullen. That may be his assumption - the reality is confiscation.

Maori Seabed Has Never Been Sold !!

Hon Dover Samuels, the Government MP who once fought against legal positions like those in the Foreshore Act, said in sworn affidavits in Court in 1993-94:

“We wish to protect our customary rights and title against the claims of others. We have the cultural and spiritual connection with that place and those customary uses. There are no boundaries or divisions between mana whenua and mana moana – they are one…

I comment upon the Crown having ‘claimed’ the seabed – against whom? They have forgotten the rangatiratanga side of the equation.” He (and his Government) do not believe what he once said. They are prepared to remove Maori tikanga rights; they will not challenge non-Maori rights.

Why – you may ask - is this racist Act on the books anyway? Privatisation is still on the Government agenda. Their refusal to buy and protect Ngunguru Sandspit is another indication of this. The Foreshore Act does not require any other party to prove they have valid freehold title of foreshore / seabed - only Maori. But privatisation affects all of us!

Mining West Coast sand – extracting western Northland oil – securing full government control of the 200-mile exclusive zone so international treaties can be signed… These are some possible reasons for the Government to push this Act through. Who benefits?

Whangarei Anti-Racism Coalition joins many others to oppose the further sale of the Spit into private hands. Further, we challenge the law that will outlast the sale and say with many others: Repeal this Racist Law !!


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