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Action Alert! Act now on the foreshore and seabed

8 December 2003

Kia ora,

Below is Moana Jackson's initial analysis of the government's foreshore and seabed policy. We are circulating 'The taking of the foreshore' this morning to provide more information about the government’s foreshore and seabed policy, which you may have heard reported on National Radio, and seen in the NZ Herald.

Cabinet is due to sign off on the proposals before the release date of 17 December - if they go ahead with what they are currently proposing, it will be a gross breach of the Treaty of Waitangi; and a source of serious conflict for generations to come. It is a tragedy in the making.

It is absolutely crucial that Pakeha / Tauiwi voices opposing the policy are heard now. Please take the time as early as you can this week to write, email or fax government politicians and tell them very clearly what you think about their arrogant handling of this issue. That their totally ignoring what tangata whenua have been, and are, saying about the foreshore and seabed is unacceptable to you; and their behaviour indicates the most extraordinary colonial attitudes which are simply not appropriate in this day and age.

You could also point out that if they go ahead with this policy, they will have missed an opportunity to peacefully and fairly resolve the foreshore and seabed issue, and they will be remembered in the future as the raupatu government of the 21st century who willfully and knowingly caused what may prove to be irreparable harm to the social fabric of this country.

Contact details for politicians, and links to more information, are below.

The Taking of the Foreshore

"The plains and the mountains are being removed from under our feet, the hundred pathways of Heretaunga are being trampled by angry greedy people. Soon all we may have left will be the sea and the beaches although even now Pakeha covet our fish, drain the waters that feed the sea, and take away the rocks and sand ... the ocean is in danger of being taken like the rest of the whenua". Te Ataria, 1873.

  • Introduction:
  • The Government has recently completed its policy proposals for resolving the foreshore and seabed issue.

    The issue originally arose when the government announced in June that it would effectively overrule a Court of Appeal decision allowing Maori to make claims in the Maori land Court to customary rights in the foreshore and seabed.

    The Crown announcement was later outlined in a 'consultation document' which was greeted with anger and dismay by Maori. Equal dismay was expressed by Maori over the political expediency of most of the other major political parties which fomented public unrest with misleading and deliberately provocative statements about the Maori concern and an unfounded fear that 'ordinary New Zealanders' would no longer be able to go to the beach.

    In spite of the political misinformation Maori unanimously rejected the proposals in the document and the four principles upon which it was based at a series of hastily organised consultation hui. Iwi and Hapu saw the document as an effective extinguishment of Maori rights and a denial of due process.

    At the Ngati Kahungunu hui held at Omahu marae the above statement by Te Ataria was quoted to express the very real concern that history would repeat itself and the foreshore and seabed would be taken just as the land had been confiscated.

    Sadly the comments have come to pass as the final Crown proposals do amount to an effective extinguishment. They are in fact worse than the suggestions made in the original proposals and make a mockery of the consultation process and of Crown claims that it operates within a good faith Treaty partnership.

    They ignore all of the reasoned opposition of Maori plus the many constructive suggestions made by Iwi and Hapu for a just solution that would overcome the apparent concerns about access and the prevention of sale.

    This brief Paper outlines the main points in the government proposals.

  • The Method of the Taking:
  • The Crown retains the original four principles of access, protection, certainty, and regulation without any real change, in spite of their rejection by Maori.

    It invents a new type of title and vests the foreshore and seabed in all New Zealanders under a 'people of New Zealand title' which extinguishes without due process the Maori rights long recognised in the common law as well as tikanga.

    It acknowledges a parallel set of Maori interests but restricts them both in their meaning and application.

    It closes off Maori access to the Courts to have those interests and rights defined except in certain limited cases where cases may be heard in a new division of the Maori Land Court.

    The jurisdiction of the new division of the Maori Land Court will be defined in legislation which proposes a restrictive definition of customary interests including such things as the protection of wahi tapu.

    The legislation will exclude a right of development which is recognised in both the common law and international law as a fundamental part of the doctrine of customary rights.

    The Maori Land Court will in effect be restricted to being a conclave of anthropologists and historians considering traditional matters of use. It will not be a true judicial process enabling the consideration and evolution of effective Maori rights.

    The rights will be also be restricted to an indefinite but definitely subordinate process of joint management with local bodies such as District and Regional Councils. The extent of co-management will be determined by statute. The concept of joint management is a fundamental diminution of tino rangatiratanga.

    The Crown acknowledges it is extinguishing Maori rights but characterises its actions as only a 'theoretical extinguishment' because it is creating the new division of the Maori Land Court. However because the Court is restricted in its jurisdiction and the fundamental Maori title is replaced it is a very real as well as a 'theoretical' extinguishment.

    The proposals are a fundamental breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and a betrayal of Maori concerns.

    Moana Jackson,
    8 December 2003.

    Where You Can Get More Information

    Articles and statements including those by Moana Jackson and Te Hau Tikanga / the Maori Law Commission; previous Alerts and Updates from Peace Movement Aotearoa; Media Releases from several individuals and groups; Pakeha submissions on the government’s proposals; and assorted media reports are available on the Foreshore and Seabed information index page.

    Reports from, and submissions to, the government’s ‘consultation’ hui; statements from the national Maori hui; and Te Ope Mana a Tai proposals are available on the Te Ope Mana a Tai web site.

    Contact Details for Government Ministers

    * Helen Clark, Prime Minister, email or fax (04) 473 3579; Michael Cullen, Deputy Prime Minister, email or fax (04) 495 8442; Margaret Wilson, Attorney-General, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, email or fax (04) 495 8460; Parekura Horomia, Minister of Maori Affairs, email or fax (04) 495 8475; Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Maori Affairs, email or fax (04) 495 8472; and John Tamihere, Associate Minister of Maori Affairs, email or fax (04) 472 8032. If you are posting your letter/s, each should be addressed to the relevant politician and posted (no stamp needed) to Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

    It would be great if you could also send a copy of any letter/s to Peace Movement Aotearoa email or fax (04) 382 8173 - we would also appreciate receiving a copy of any replies you receive as they are particularly useful for our ongoing work on this issue, they can be emailed or faxed as above, or posted to PMA, Po Box 9314, Wellington.

    Please indicate if you are happy for a copy of any letters you send to be made publicly available on the PMA web site, or if it is for our information only.

    We encourage people to distribute this alert to anyone who may act on it - but please note that if you copy it off this web page, the reference urls will not be visible. If you want a text copy for forwarding, or for coding for your web site, just email and ask for it. Thank you.

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