"Bit of an uproar" in Select Committee Hearings
1 September 2004
Presenter (Dale Husband): today we hear from a submitter who describes a bit of an uproar in a Select Committee hearing on the foreshore and seabed bill. Nga Rauru were giving their submission to the Committee and they asked the members to answer some questions of great importance to them because the iwi are on the brink of a final treaty settlement with the Crown. Bill Hamilton, who is their spokesperson, told Carol Archie how their submission prompted a shouting match among Committee members although it began quietly enough.
Bill Hamilton (Spokesperson, Nga Rauru): We put forward some suggestions on how they could improve the legislation. One of them is that we agreed that public access was desirable, that we didn't want any more land sold to private interests. We said that there were some heavy tikanga issues there that they're ignoring, that they need to work with us and other groups to deal with and a few of those other types of things that are general.
Reporter (Carol Archie): But Bill Hamilton says it wasn't plain sailing after that.
Hamilton: Our kaumatua in particular were quite dismayed at some of the things that happened at the Select Committee with Select Committee members. We asked them three questions. We asked them what enables members of parliament to pass legislation that discriminates against Maori? We also asked them how parliament regards the tangata whenua status of Maori sitting alongside parliamentary authority and we also asked them about the competence of parliament to determine which bits tikanga or matauranga Maori should be included or excluded from legislation.
Reporter: Were they prepared to answer those questions?
Hamilton: Well no, what they asked us, what the Chair Russell Fairbrother said, was that we could ask our questions and then each party would answer them, that the Select Committee, you know, wouldn't be able to answer those questions as a whole which surprised me because the whole bill is about those issues.
But anyway when we started he did let Wayne Mapp give a bit of a description of it and Wayne Mapp outlined National Party policy which was basically he started off by saying that the National Party doesn't recognise any individuals or any New Zealanders being different from each other. And he said that there are no partnerships, that the partnership, and meaning the Treaty partnership, doesn't exist. I questioned him about that because their government has worked with various iwi to settle Treaty grievances so i was a wee bit... that a double message there but... and then he asked us a couple of questions and stuff like that.
But what sort of caused a bit of a furore was when Metiria Turei started to answer those questions for us. the chair of the Select Committee, Russell Fairbrother, got quite angry and told her to stop talking and growled her quite severely. Our people were quite upset by that because we didn't know that Select Committees behaved like that and he shouted at her to stop talking over the top of him and that she had to stop asking her question or making her statement while he was making a ruling and there was a bit of argy bargy there.
And then Murray Smith from United Future asked for a point of order and he was yelled at as well. And our kaumatua who were sitting beside us were quite perturbed by that and one of them was standing up and sort of wanted to say well look, you know, te tau te rangi Maori, act peacefully, don't yell at each other. And Tariana was sitting there waiting to ask her question and the whole thing was a bit of a shambles really but it sort of settled down and we managed to put our submission down.
Reporter: Nga Rauru have just signed a Deed of Settlement with the Crown so Bill Hamilton says they tried to explain to the Select Committee that the issues they've raised are of enormous importance to the iwi.
Hamilton: And we're hoping that parliament's going to accept the Deed of Settlement but we haven't got it into legislation but we outlined three things that have come out of that settlement that look as if they're in jeopardy already.
One of them was the Crown wanting its honour restored and there's a clause in most settlements to do with including honourable and reasonable in the settlement. And we made the point that the government's behaviour in pushing this Bill and the way they've done it is less than honourable and certainly not reasonable.
We also pointed out that we've just agreed to establish a paepae rangatira, where rangatira from government and rangatira from Nga Rauru would meet each year to talk about the health of the Treaty relationship and what our aspirations for. Well the spirit of that really seems to have been annulled in many ways because there's no recognition of the rangatira status of Nga Rauru.
And one of the other things we agreed to in the settlement was for our Nga Raurutanga being acknowledged and respected and the Crown did that but this legislation cuts right across our kaitiakitanga, our rangatiratanga and it interferes with rights and entitlements that are based on tikanga and whangapapa. So, you know, hence that question about whether they really understand what that stuff means. So it was a bit of a circus yesterday really to be quite honest.
Reporter: Do you think your questions were reasonable?
Hamilton: Very much so because they're at the heart of what this legislation is about. I know they don't like us asking them but I think until we get some of those things sorted out, like where is the status of tangata whenua alongside parliamentary sovereignty, we're going to keep talking past each other.
And there is a big question about the competence of parliament to actually understand some of those fundamental roles that Maori have with regards to our foreshore and seabed, our rangatiratanga right and our kaitiaki responsibilities.
There's a big question about whether parliament understands how important those are because if they did understand ... you know, like the kaitiaki role when we were negotiating our settlement we actually wanted the settlement to provide support for the practice of rahui in our area which is really just looking after the beach, you know, because stocks run low or because someone's died there, and the most they would do, they wouldn't support our rahui, but what they agreed to do was that they would communicate with the fishermen and that's really quite a pathetic level of support for something as important and as fundamental as rahui. Because rahui they don't really interfere with fishing and all of that sort of thing to any great extent. They may lay prohibition for three days or if you're replenishing stocks, you know, for 12 months but all of those are really for the benefit of all New Zealanders and we were quite disappointed at their approach to that.
Reporter: He says his iwi favours the longer conversation recommended by the Waitangi Tribunal.
Hamilton: We also offered to sit down with them and help. You know, Mahara Okeroa, he was one of the members of the Select Committee, he said that it was a constructive submission and that he liked it because it did offer some suggestions and solutions on the ways forward and he thought that Nga Rauru had the advantage over most other iwi in that we've got a paepae rangatira agreement but, boy-o-boy, if it's not honoured it seems to be a waste of time having it.
Bill Hamilton, broadcast on 'Mana News, Radio NZ