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Support the foreshore and seabed hikoi
A call to the anti-Springbok tour generation to rally

20 April 2004

I cannot stand silently by and watch this Labour-led government create another generation of Maori grievance, with all its attendant civil disruption and danger on our streets to Pakeha like you and I, when there is a simple answer, and precedence, to resolve the foreshore and seabed issue to the satisfaction of all interests, in Maori tribes like Tuhoe and Ngati Tuwharetoa retaining their customary title of their lakes Waikaremoana and Taupo (and Ngati Whatua over the Okahu Bay foreshore in Auckland) while sharing governance over them with the appropriate Crown agencies.

Also, the Greens are right - If we want to safeguard the public's interest, all that is required is a simple amendment to Te Ture Whenua Act declaring that iwi and hapu customary title is a collective title that cannot be converted into private "fee simple" title.

Yet what we are being given is a hugely complicated, 73 page long bill, which still does not guarantee that some future government will not sell portions of the seabed and foreshore to the highest bidder, and has huge negative implications for all users of our beaches and coastal waterways.

The proposed foreshore and seabed legislation is plain old-fashioned, out-and-out, theft. It is a con. And it has been done before! Remember, 100 years ago, by the 1894 Validation of Invalid Land Sales Act, the Liberal Government of the day sought to retrospectively validate the Crown's illegal land acquisition activities which this generation of New Zealanders has been paying for in the recent Treaty settlement process.

Tariana Turia and Nanaia Mahuta are right to cross the floor of the House to oppose this bill. Even NZ Listener columnist, Jane Clifton, confirms the view that, the much vaunted through-the-night negotiations conducted by Labour's Maori male MPs, have gained iwi and hapu nothing they didn't already have for a potage of costly legal processes just to prove what they've always exercised!

In December 2000 this present government resolved the Moutoa Gardens dispute with the Whangaui iwi, Te Ati Haunui-a-Paparangi, by vesting the gardens jointly in the iwi and the Wanganui District Council, and setting up a three-way management regime involving the iwi, the Crown, and the district council.

Why have we not the wit to follow this Moutoa Gardens settlement precedent to put in place a true win-win situation for everyone?

How many Moutoa Gardens upheavals again have to happen before the Crown withdraws this unnecessary foreshore and seabed legislation which takes away centuries of iwi and hapu customary title and rights for a potage of consultation rights which they had any way under many provisions of the Resource Management and Local Government acts, and reduces them to being treated like any old, local, kayaking or fishing club?

Iwi and hapu are the Crown's Treaty partners. They are not just one among many litigants in a long queue. By the Treaty they were guaranteed an enduring, on-going, role in governing their land and water resources as tribal kaitiaki.

Their customary title and rights exist in centuries of international law and British common and colonial law (as Australia's Mabo decision showed) and can only be revoked in this perfunctory manner at the cost of besmirching New Zealand's international reputation.

The High Court decision which began all this hoo-haa last July was only giving recognition to these realities. And anyway, it was a very limited judgment which gave Top-of-the-South iwi the right only to explore the nature and extent of this customary title and their customary rights before the Maori Land Court. It did not grant any new rights. And it expressly stated that they may have great difficulty, 164 years after the Treaty of Waitangi, to prove they had exercised this title and these rights continually.

So I issue a call to arms to the anti-Springbok tour generation to rally on behalf of our Maori co-citizens. If the Crown can filch centuries of common law and customary rights of iwi and hapu in this way, then in the future no property rights of anyone are safe!

A rally to declare to the Government, 'Not In Our Name', is being planned in Nelson's Montgomery Carpark for around, May 5th, to coincide with the introduction of the foreshore and seabed bill to Parliament, and the arrival of various Maori hikoi in Wellington.

Rev Gary Clover.
For further information please contact Rev Gary Clover tel/fax (03) 547-7322, or email.

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