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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

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.


At 14/9/10 12:41 pm, Blogger John Laurie said...

Ï have to say I think the writer of this blog is the racist and not Chris Trotter. The foreshore and seabed have been publically owned as far as anybody knew as far back as anyone's memory goes. Numerous Acts of Parliament affirmed this public ownership. Even the Appeal Court had confirmed it in 1963. The recent finding by the Courts that some underlying title might still exist was in the nature of a failure by successive governments to cross their ts and dot their is. Many Maori as well as Pakeha and others have no links to iwi organisations and live outside their original tribal rohe. Many hapu have no sea coast or little land along the coast and won't benefit from the Bill. They should support public ownership against privatisation. It is not racist to be in favour of public ownership and control.

At 14/9/10 2:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, you seriously live in an alternative reality.

The crown has sovereignty over NZ and this is fact which has been upheld by the courts.

Because of this ALL land tenure is derived from Crown grant and from this flows title.

The courts and therefore instruments of the crown will not recognise your claim so in laypersons terms you are up the creek without a paddle.

PS can you elaborate about what a 'neutral setting' means?

At 14/9/10 6:06 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are the Maori trying to take New Zealand off New Zealanders.
Why cant they just give non Maori their land back.
They have no right.
How dare they.

At 14/9/10 6:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 14/9/10 11:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For fucks sake I really don't know why the Maori are complaining.

They were given the rights of a British subject so compared to the indigenous people in Australia it was a pretty good deal.

And Tim, before you start to whine about the oppression of racist imperialism maybe you could also post on the various wars between Maori tribes with their cannibalism, genocide and slavery. No, didn't think think you would so keep on living in your simpistic little make believe world of good against evil.

While colonial practises may not always have been pretty you've simply extended it to a lie.

At 15/9/10 9:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maori want to confiscate Pakeha land.
Give the Pakeha their land back Maori.
Stop this injustice now!!
Oppression is what it is.

At 15/9/10 5:26 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The myths of our past

Let me now counter some of the myths of our past. Too many of us look back through utopian glasses, imagining the Polynesian past as a genteel world of “wise ecologists, mystical sages, gifted artists, heroic navigators and pacifists who wouldn’t hurt a fly”.2

It was nothing like that. Life was hard, brutal and short.

James Belich shows us that, once guns fell into Maori hands in the early years of the 19th century, ancient tribal rivalries saw Maori kill more of their own than the number of all New Zealanders lost in World War I. Probably 20,000 Maori were killed by Maori in the 1820s and 1830s.3

Equally, however, the initial Maori contact with Europeans was hardly a contact with the cream of European civilisation. The first Europeans that Maori encountered were explorers, whalers, escaped convicts from Australia, and then settlers hungry for land to build a new life. Many were none-too concerned about the niceties of the Treaty. And none possessed any appreciation of the interpretations of its meaning that some are trying to breathe into the document today.

At 15/9/10 5:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

3 James Belich, Making Peoples, 1996, p 157.

At 16/9/10 1:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 Roger Sandall, The Culture Cult, p 114.


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