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Ae Marika!

Ae Marika!

A column published in the Northland Age
By Hone Harawira
MP for Tai Tokerau
15 December 2009

Government is considering what it should do after the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed (FSSB) Act. As part of that response, the Maori Party asked the Iwi Leaders Group (ILG) to present their views to a series of hui around the country, the last of which was the biggest of them all, in Whangarei last week.

Good to see the old “Maori Seabed – Fore Shore!!” banner - a gentle reminder to the those who would lead that everything we win, we win by struggle.

One of the ILG Technicians did her best to present the case using a power-point and then the floor was opened for robust, challenging, and lively discussion from start to finish.

Nearly all of the Tai Tokerau speakers opposed the ILG having any say over the FSSB; most felt that whanau and hapu were the best ones to look after it.

A number of people also told me that they thought the Maori Party should be driving this issue; that the people who marched for the Foreshore and Seabed had voted for the Maori Party, not the Iwi Leaders Group, to get it back.

My views in 2009 are the same as they were back in 2004 when we marched. I think that Labour deliberately allowed the FSSB debate to become an argument about Maori stopping Pakeha from going to the beach, to build support for government ownership over the FSSB. That was rubbish of course, but the hysteria was there and the Act was passed.

I think there are 3 basic issues, and they are:

Maori Title: If government can assume ownership of the FSSB with one piece of legislation, they can just as easily return it to Maori with another. That will immediately end centuries of anguish from the past, and decades of discord in the future.
No Sale: In the same legislation, include a clause ensuring that Maori can never sell the FSSB. That fits with the Maori world view that we don’t own land as a commodity, but rather we hold it as a responsibility for future generations. It will also put an end to all that rubbish about Maori only wanting it so we can sell it.
Full Access: In the same legislation, guarantee full access to all New Zealanders forever. In the same way that Maori don’t want it to keep for ourselves, neither is it true that we want it to keep Pakeha out. As kaitiaki, Maori should be able to set limits on access to protect seafood stocks promote conservation and control behaviour, but granting access to Kiwis is an easy deal.
There you have it folks. It ain’t rocket science but it works. Some technocrats have already pointed out some problems, but if we’re bold enough, this is an easy fix.

Oh yeah – I called in to Tautoko the other day and one of the old hands reckoned that the reason I got their start dates so wrong is becauseI must’ve been smoking something “very low-class” 21 years ago! Some days you just can’t win a trick …


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