Ae Marika: Taipa, Foreshore & Seabed
A column published in the Northland Age
By Hone Harawira
MP for Tai Tokerau
7 December 2010
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Called out to see the whanau at Maheatai in Taipa the other day. I got there just after they'd finished a sports day and were all sitting round having a wonderful feast (good timing eh!). Now I know it riles a few people that they might be seen to be enjoying themselves when they should be getting arrested, but what it tells me is that they've got a very good handle on what they're doing out there. Apart from the incident on the bus a couple of weeks back, they've been cool and calm, they've met openly with locals, they've been polite in their dealings with the police, but they've also been firm.
They have identified a clear injustice and taken steps to right it, they have taken their case to their iwi, and they have put forward a number of options to see the land returned. I understand that the Minister has changed his tune from "they can go to hell!" to something a little more intelligent and accommodating, and I know that Ngati Kahu's chairperson has also signalled her willingness to enter into discussions over the return of Maheatai.
Whatever happens, I hope this works out well for everyone. It's a beautiful place, and it would be nice to see it stay that way forever.
OPPOSITION TO THE FORESHORE AND SEABED BILL
Opposition to the new foreshore and seabed bill continues to grow, with Ngai Tahu, the iwi with the largest foreshore and seabed in the country, saying that it would rather keep the 2004 act than give Maori support to a 2011 version which was equally unjust. Ngai Tahu speakers told the Maori Affairs select committee in Christchurch yesterday, that while the new bill was an improvement on the Foreshore and Seabed Act, they still felt that the tests to have customary title recognised was too high and unfair.
And now the Human Rights Commission has also come out with its own submission stating that the new foreshore and seabed legislation still discriminates against Maori.
It seems that the longer the hearings continue, the greater the Maori opposition to this bill. I have no doubt that a few Maori will support this bill, just as there were a few Maori who supported the last one. Remember Dover Samuels, Mita Ririnui, Mahara Okeroa and John Tamihere? They all voted for the last foreshore and seabed bill, and promptly got dumped at the next election.
I think Tariana was right to signal that Maori Party support for this bill would rest on the will of the people. That will is being expressed quite clearly. Maori people are opposed to it. I would expect that not too long after the select committee finishes its work, the Maori Party will formally withdraw its support for this National Party bill.
DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES
Dissatisfaction with the Maori Party particularly over its position on the new foreshore and seabed bill, a rejection of what is seen to be the corporate-focus of the Iwi Leaders Group, and straight opposition to the National government's attacks on the wellbeing of whenua, whanau and hapu, has seen the emergence of a new Maori women's organisation - Te Whaainga Wahine, formed at a hui in Hauraki last weekend. Good on them.