Hui gives Crown the message
24 September 2003
Taranaki Maori labelled the Government's proposals for the seabed and foreshore as "bullshit" at a hui in Waitara yesterday.
Iwi, hapu and whanau representatives were united in rejecting the proposals that would declare land below the high-tide mark in the public domain.
Attorney-General Margaret Wilson told more than 100 Maori gathered at Owae Marae that customary interests of Maori in the seabed and foreshore would be acknowledged, and specific rights identified and protected.
State Services Minister Trevor Mallard accused Maori of selling land, which had been given freehold titles, to pakeha.
"That's wrong and that should never happen with the foreshores of New Zealand."
He was told by Maori not to yell in the whare nui (meeting house).
A group of protesters – including a horse rider carrying the Maori sovereignty flag – were present as the delegation was welcomed on to the marae.
Greg White, who represented Ngati Maru, Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama iwi, said the issue for Maori was not about denying public access.
"Your proposal is Crown bullshit. If the Government continues this abuse, we have the power at the next election."
He warned Maori MPs not to support the proposals.
"If you're not with us, hop out the way."
Otaraua hapu spokesperson Tom Hunt said members of the public needed to be better educated on customary rights so they could make informed decisions.
He said most of the land in Taranaki had been confiscated and the foreshore and seabed was all Maori had left.
"There's not a person in the room from Taranaki who isn't united in this rejection."
Marty Davis, who represented Nga Ruahine, Ngati Ruanui and Ngarauru, offered possible solutions.
He said the Government could fund Taranaki iwi to hold meetings with members of the public to address any fears they had about the foreshore and seabed issue.
The Crown should also protect the basic human rights of Maori, he said.
"We continue to suffer intrusions in your endeavours to colonise us."
He said the foreshore and seabed debate was as much about New Zealand's economy as it was about access.
The speakers reminded the Crown delegation, which included seven ministers and MPs, of the battles Taranaki Maori had been in over land.
Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia said Maori MPs played an important role in Government.
"We aren't going to step aside. At the end of the day, we will be measured by what will happen over the next month."
Labour MPs Harry Duynhoven, Tariana Turia, John Tamihere and Mahara Okeroa also attended the hui.
The Government's proposals have been rejected by Maori at every consultation hui held so far.
Krysti Wetton, The Daily News
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