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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Takutai Moana Bill: Common Marine and Confiscation Area

The bill is still in committee, Tau Henare has been speaking - at last some debate from the Nats instead of just closure motions.The carve up goes on meanwhile under the 2004 regime. Corporations can gain interests in the takutai moana over the top of Maori objections and to the prejudice of Maori claims. What would change under this new bill - being pushed through its committee stage as I type? - nothing.

The "public foreshore and seabed" general confiscation zone of 2004 is now the "common marine and coastal area" general confiscation zone of 2011 - same diff. It's a legislative mechanism to define an area where the NZ government can still assert its inherent racism: terra nullius and the assumption of radical extinguishment of Maori territorial and land rights by adverse and prescriptive means... as if the Treaty pre-emption clause gave the Crown the right to unilaterally define Maori estates, lands etc. as non-extistent and then create its own property out of it for others. This is a breach of the Treaty on many levels. If you do not extinguish a property right with consent then it is confiscation, and that is what is going on in this bill - all without any compensation.

The law itself, to quote Parekura Horomia in one of his rhetorical flourishes, is an "illogical matrix of points of decision-making." And that rather neatly sums up the Maori Party caucus strategy too. No-one can work out what or why they are whoring themselves out like this to the Tories.

And still the Maori Party MPs back National's text to the letter. They have not even attempted to put up any amendments. Their position is untenable, the result: self-destruction.

The fact is that National will not amend this law once it is passed. That is what they have said.

Next term there is no way they are going to revisit it - they have declared it closed for them. So no advancement that Tariana says will happen later (and for which the measly bottom lines were supposedly worth paying the price) is ever going to happen under National. So if they can't re-negotiate it with the Nats the only way is to advance it with Labour... but Tariana has a personal distrust of Labour that makes it unlikely she would go there, so the Maori Party will be stuck with National and not being able to advance anything of substance to wind back the confiscation and its effects.

And why would Labour want to revisit it either? The Maori Party has already had its chance with this bill, Labour has no motivation to reopen it. And Labour knows National won't revisit it either... so what happens? It gets wiped off the agenda. Those treacherously low bottom lines that the Maori Party promise are the start become locked into the law and the courts and become the end. All the confiscation from 1840 right through to today and the future becomes settled using these pernicious thresholds.

This could be the biggest own goal in NZ political history. Will the Maori Party MPs be celebrating and toasting this bill with National? Will the Maori Party MPs be celebrating come Tuesday and the Hikoi reaching parliament?


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