Foreshore & Seabed | Crown must meet tests to prove its title
The government will shortly introduce the Foreshore and Seabed 2004 confiscation repeal legislation - the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill. I have not read the bill, but it looks to be fairly weak medicine for what was the government's striking down of the NZ version of the Mabo case. The Labour government's panicked and prejudiced actions in cahoots with NZ First put in their confiscation law a test for Maori land rights that was essentially "the white man's touch," ie. if a Pakeha had so much as touched a part of the foreshore and seabed at any point then under the 2004 Act it had arguably extinguished all Maori forms of customary title over that area. This was the essential, ugly racism of it. The new bill looks set to go to select committee as Labour have also indicated that they will back it at the first stage.
In my submission to the select committee I will suggest that it is not Maori but the Crown that must be tested. It is the Crown that must prove the current non-Maori holders of Crown forms of title and other Crown-derived interests have a right to it in each specific case - and they ought to go about providing evidence and proving their claims in a neutral setting. If the government is trying to put a six year limit on Maori claims I suggest that a six year limit be put on Crown claims.
I have said from the very beginning - to the original ministerial inquiry before the 2004 confiscation Act was formulated - that the government should split the legislation into a separate bill for public access and a separate bill to deal with Maori interests. I argued in that initial report (and they quoted it) for a right of public access that applied across all the foreshore and seabed regardless of title (or non-title). That law should have been passed first. It would have taken most of the heat out of the situation and allowed a longer period to consult and draw up something that had a closer chance at reaching consensus. That was my position seven years ago and it is my position today.
Meanwhile amid the howls of hypocritical outrage from the white supremacists we have the Old Rhodesian at it again, race hate-mongering. I don't understand the real reason for the poison myself, unless he sees Maori gaining formal acknowledgment of their residual property rights and autonomy as a threat to the Left and the Labour vote in particular. That would be one reasonable explanation, because as it stands it's a phobic, hysterical, paranoid response indistinguishable from the rednecks of the Right, ie. it is racist. Littered with multiple references to "betrayal," "danger" and "threats" and a litany of willful untruths it is conservative white reactionary rhetoric more akin to a NZ First pamphlet than a tract from an historian of the progressive Left tradition. Lately he's been little more than an exponent of Pakeha Mythology. It's also terminally doom-laden, but that's just your usual Trotter. Maybe he is right and no-one will listen to his ilk. Here's hoping. But it's Winston Peters I'd be more concerned with as the legislation will be passed barely six months or so before the general election and it will be a perfect springboard for his brand of backward-looking nationalism.
UPDATE | 12:20PM: RNZ reporting that Hone Harawira will not back the bill. This is real boon for the PM who will use it to paint Harawira as the extremist and by contrast the bill must therefore be moderate.