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Q+A: Hone Harawira - Foreshore & Seabed Issue

Sunday 5th July 2009: Q+A’s Guyon Espiner interviews Maori Party MP, Hone Harawira.

Points of interest:
- Crown stole foreshore and seabed from Maori by passing 2004 Act
- Maori Party won’t be pursuing compensation, despite review panel’s advice
- Selling foreshore and seabed “completely off the table” for Maori
- Customary rights don’t give Maori “the right to commodify the foreshore and seabed”
- Foreshore and seabed review: “It's not about denying you the right to come down to the beach.”

The interview has been transcribed below. The full length video interviews and panel discussions from this morning’s Q+A can be seen on tvnz.co.nz at,
http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news


FORESHORE & SEABED ISSUE
HONE HARAWIRA interviewed by GUYON ESPINER

GUYON ...... Thanks Paul, and thanks Hone for coming in and joining us this morning. We appreciate that. Let’s talk about expectations from the Maori Party following this review. Do you expect this Act now to be repealed?


HONE HARAWIRA – Maori Party
I think the overwhelming opinion, certainly within Maoridom, and I think, of the nation, is that it’s a bad piece of legislation. Let’s get rid of it.

GUYON So the Maori Party expectation is for the Act to be repealed?

HONE For repeal.

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GUYON One of the preferred options in the report calls for compensation. Either a cash settlement, or some revenue stream of the amount of money that’s generated from the seabed and foreshore. Is that what you expect? Is that something that you want?

HONE That came out of the blue, that one. Everybody knows that we didn’t march for money, we didn’t plan for compensation – it was never part of the Maori Party history, the Maori Party future in fact. It's a recommendation from the Review Panel, but when you look at it...

GUYON What do you think of that recommendation for compensation.

HONE Well I guess you know when you take something away from people illegally then they’ve got to be compensated somewhere down the track.

GUYON Sorry to interrupt you but there's a very important point there, that’s what your leader said too. On what basis...

HONE Well she was right then.

GUYON Yeah, but what basis do you say that it was taken away from you, because that’s not what the Court of Appeal ruled at all, they did not rule that the seabed and foreshore was Maori land or that it belonged to Maori.

HONE The foreshore and seabed was stolen. It is as simple as that Guyon.

GUYON On what basis do you...?

HONE The court didn’t say it belonged to the Crown, that’s number one.

GUYON No, they said it was uncertain. They said ownership was uncertain and they said you could proceed to the Maori Land Court to test claims to customary rights, that’s very different from you saying that Maori own that land.

HONE Once the court says it does not belong to the Crown, and then the Crown passes a piece of legislation to assume absolute control of it, that’s stealing it, it's as simple as that. Maybe for Maori, and other New Zealanders, but it certainly did not belong to the Crown up until the point when they rammed through that Act. In terms of Maori we were denied the opportunity to take this case to court, the Act was widely resented by Maori right throughout the country and a whole heap of New Zealanders as well.

GUYON Do you think that would be a good outcome, compensation? Do you think it might raise heckles from elements of New Zealand, especially in a recession?

HONE Actually even though the report said repeal the Act, the rednecks are still out there baying for blood etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, I really don’t care about the compensation issue and I don’t think the party does particularly. If that’s something that’s gonna happen it's gonna happen between the courts, and hapu and iwi, it's not an issue that we are pursuing.

GUYON What is this about then, what do you want from this? What should a new act say?

HONE I think all we're after is what our people wanted in the first place, our customary rights to the Foreshore and Seabed, as well as the right for the public to have continued access. Now that’s all we wanted in the first place, that was denied us by the passage of this Act.

HONE But didn’t you have that prior to the Ngati Apa case in 2003, what was wrong then? Didn’t Maori and Pakeha use the beach, use the coastal areas. Didn’t you have your customary rights then?

HONE Sure sure sure, that’s that half. The first half however, the customary rights were denied when the Crown stepped in and said nah, it's ours, and you’ve gotta prove your case.

GUYON So how has life changed for Maori, after that case? What has changed? What have you lost? What is different?

HONE Where were you in 2004, Guyon? There must have been about 50,000 Maori marching up and down the country. We were pissed off.

GUYON Why? What has changed?

HONE We were pissed off with a piece of legislation which basically said our rights were meaningless, and the Crown was gonna take the whole lot and assume absolute ownership of it. Now in case – you must have been out of the country – possibly off the planet…

GUYON No, I was on the forecourt of parliament watching you, and I'm asking what has practically changed. I know the protest, I was there, but I'm asking you what has practically changed for Maori, after that Act?

HONE After the Act was passed?

GUYON Yeah.

HONE I guess one of the very first things that happened was the Crown got to determine exactly who could do what from that point on. We never had the opportunity to test our rights.

GUYON We know all that, what I'm asking you is what changed, practically what changed for you in your life, what's changed for Maori? What was the practical impact?

HONE You know Guyon, when the Crown passes a piece of legislation to deny a sector of New Zealand their rights, then you should be as angry about it as I was, but you weren’t, and neither were...

GUYON It's not about me at all, I'm asking you what practically changed?

HONE Exactly, that’s the point I'm trying to make Guyon, most New Zealanders didn’t particularly care that Maori had been denied their rights to court, which New Zealanders have in every other facet of their life. Now that’s what happened. There was a practical change forcing us to try to plead our case for something which was always ours.

GUYON But isn't it ironic that one of the preferred options in this isn't really for Maori to go back to court and test this right for a national settlement, that wouldn’t actually restore what you say made you so angry, which was your right to go to court.

HONE Look, the report says a number of different things and we want to take that back out to our people to test it. There are national issues, there are regional issues, there are local issues, and we don’t want a piece of legislation to come in without the opportunity for our people to consider all of those options.

GUYON The report says that customary rights are property rights. What does that mean? Does that mean also the right to develop, the right to sell?

HONE I think the right to sell in terms of customary rights is completely off the table – completely off the table. I think customary rights in those terms of a property right is about the collective and historical ownership of - as it so happens - the foreshore and seabed in this case. But I don’t believe it gives us as Maori the right to commodify the Foreshore and Seabed and to use it as real estate, as westerners do.

GUYON At the heart of this issue, according to the report, is a different world view, they say that for Maori the Seabed and Foreshore is a food source and for Pakeha it's a playground. Do you think that that is the basic tension here?

HONE It's a very simplistic way of putting it, but I think it does highlight the tensions and the differences, I think they can be resolved though. I think if you were to wake up tomorrow Guyon, and all of the Foreshore and Seabed was in Maori title, within a couple of years I don’t think you’ve be particularly fussed about it, because you'd still be going to the beach. Now for Maori, it isn't so much that we want it so that we can make a lot of money and sell it, it's about recognising the connection between us historically, in that Foreshore and Seabed, but it's not about denying you the right to come down to the beach.

GUYON We'll leave it there, thanks very much for coming in and joining us this morning.

ENDS

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