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Turia: Foreshore And Seabed Bill

Foreshore And Seabed Bill 4 November 2004

The Maori Party is astounded that despite a tidal wave of opposition to the Bill, there are very few, if any, changes made to reflect that the people’s views have been taken into account.

'The overwhelming majority of the 3946 submissions received on the Bill opposed the Bill in clear and unequivocal terms. 45,000 New Zealanders marched to Parliament in May, and then again through Auckland last month. Yet the Government has failed to listen’ said Mrs Turia today.

‘The Maori Party was not granted the rights of a voting member in the Fisheries and other Sea-related Legislation Select Committee’ stated Mrs Turia.

‘Despite our vote being vetoed, I spent many hours in hearings, listening to the grief and anger of whanau, hapu, iwi, Maori organisations, pakeha groups, pacifists, human rights advocates, and other concerned New Zealanders’. Mrs Turia noted that there was a particularly profound contribution received by representatives of churches.

‘All these submitters told us of their fear for the consequences for New Zealanders of the Government’s decision to sacrifice due legal process in respect of determining customary rights’.

‘They shared their anxiety that the Crown will pass subsequent legislation to alienate the foreshore and seabed’.

‘They spoke of their grief at the prospect of another confiscation, extinguishing the rights of customary ownership’.

‘A tiny minority, 6% of submissions, supported the Bill, and yet the Bill remains intact. How can that be?’

‘It does call into question the whole select committee process, in bringing people to the table to tell their stories, and then to ignore them’.

‘New Zealanders invested significant personal resource in getting to these hearings, which were restricted to only three urban locations’.

‘I have not been at all surprised to receive calls stating it was all a waste of time’.

Mrs Turia said the tabling of the select committee report today, was a deliberate attempt by the Government to minimise the crisis, in the hope that the US Elections would reduce media interest in the report.

But Mrs Turia dismissed any suggestions that Maori would not be carefully watching the events of this week unfold.

‘Our people have told us they will never forget’, she said, ‘that this Government has abused the trust tangata whenua used to place in the Labour Party’.

‘This Government has become content to hold backroom meetings to retain their tenuous hold on power’.

‘Just this last Monday we have seen such an underhand approach employed by this Government with some foreshore and seabed negotiations being sneaked through Cabinet’.

‘We have not been privy to the decisions, but the Maori Party believes an even-handed approach should be taken with all hapu and iwi’.

‘The Maori Party says enough is enough’.

‘We must have a Government that recognises the significance of their treaty obligations. Consultation and the select committee process can only be a farce, if politicians fail to listen’.

‘Let’s treat each other with respect and provide a forum for all New Zealanders to meet, to learn what distinguishes us as a nation of rich and diverse cultures’.

‘Throughout the select committee process, there was also a unified call, to start again, to repair the damage that this Government has created in the area of treaty relationships, and to look again at the relationship New Zealanders have with our environment’ stated Mrs Turia.

ENDS

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