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Support the Paeroa Declaration

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    Support the Paeroa Declaration

    14 July 2003

    Kia ora,

    further to our previous alert and messages re the Court of Appeal’s judgment on Thursday, 19 June, and the government’s reaction to it; below is a copy of the text of the Paeroa Declaration, 12 July 2003, and background material prepared by Moana Jackson.

    The hysteria and scare-mongering by some in response to the Court of Appeal ruling has been heightened by some mass media outlets coverage of the Mäori hui this past weekend, and of the Paeroa Declaration - for example, this morning's Dominion Post carries a huge front page headline 'It's all ours'. Interesting how Helen Clark's statement that "Ownership of the foreshore and seabed traditionally lies with the Crown, not iwi" (NZPA, 23 June 2003) was not run under a similar headline.

    This backgrounder and the text of the Paeroa Declaration are being circulated so you have accurate information on what was actually decided at Paeroa, rather than the mass media's interpretation which is somewhat at variance with the facts.

    It remains crucially important at this time that the government are made aware that it is not only Mäori who are outraged by the plan to legislate away Mäori customary title; but that Päkehä too are outraged by this arrogant dismissal of indigenous and human rights, and of due legal process. It is also important that the mass media are made aware that their monocultural coverage of the seabed and foreshore issue is not only biased and sensationalist, but is actively encouraging social disharmony and division - whether through ignorance or deliberation is open to debate.

    Please read 'Backgrounding the Paeroa Declaration', and make your views known - the 'what you can do' section below has contact details for various politicians and mass media.

    Peace Movement Aotearoa, 14 July 2003

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  • Backgrounding the Paeroa Declaration
  • Introduction

    This Paper gives some background to the Declaration on the foreshore and seabed that was issued at the Paeroa hui of Iwi and Hapu on Saturday, July 12, 2003.

    It also contains explanations of the terminology used in the Declaration and answers some misconceptions already raised in the media and by various politicians.

    It is based upon transcripts of the discussions at the hui which led to the Declaration as well as the written submissions received from those Iwi and Hapu that were not able to be present. The Declaration itself is a synthesis of the views of the Hui.

    The Declaration

    Resolution One:

    The foreshore and seabed belong to the Hapu and Iwi under our tino rangatiratanga.

    This resolution simply reaffirms that the foreshore and seabed have always been under the jurisdiction of Iwi and Hapu as part of the authority of tino rangatiratanga.

    Te Tiriti o Waitangi acknowledged that jurisdiction as part of the "exclusive and undisturbed" possession of lands and taonga etc.

    Resolution Two:

    We reaffirm our tupuna rights to the foreshore and seabed as whenua rangatira.

    This resolution recognises that in Maori law and philosophy the foreshore, the seabed, and the land are all interrelated.

    The term 'tupuna rights' acknowledges that the rights are derived and take legitimacy from ancestral precedents. It also acknowledges that they have never been relinquished (as the Court of Appeal in fact also decided).

    Resolution Three:

    We direct all Maori MPs to oppose any legislation which proposes to extinguish or redefine customary title or rights.

    This resolution simply urges Maori MPs to support the wishes of Maori people as clearly expressed at the hui. It is directed quite deliberately at all Maori MPs, and not just members of government.

    Perhaps more importantly it acknowledges that the government authority to extinguish or redefine Iwi and Hapu rights is itself an assumed one with precedents based solely on the power taken by colonising States to dispossess Indigenous Peoples.

    Resolution Four:

    We support all Hapu and Iwi who wish to confirm their rights in the Courts.

    This resolution is obviously a recognition of the rangatiratanga of each Hapu and Iwi to pursue the issue in the way it thinks best.

    However it also acknowledges that the government attempts to pass legislation vesting ownership of the foreshore and seabed in the Crown effectively denies Iwi and Hapu access to the Courts - they deny the due process of its own law.

    Resolution Five:

    The government must disclose its proposals to whanau, Hapu and Iwi immediately, whose decision to accept or reject will be final.

    This resolution arose from concern that not only was the government's original decision to legislate made without reference to Maori, but all subsequent policy proposals have involved only minimal Maori participation.

    It was also a recognition that discussions with government Maori MPs was not a Treaty-based dialogue but simply the Crown talking to itself.

    Resolution Six:

    The final decision on the foreshore and seabed rests exclusively with whanau, Hapu and Iwi.

    This resolution was simply a reaffirmation that decision-making on this issue is properly an exercise of rangatiratanga.

    It was also a signal that Crown appointed functionaries did not have the authority to make such decisions and that while other Maori bodies such as the New Zealand Maori Council or Te Ohu Kaimoana might have expertise to offer the final decision had to rest with those to whom the rights belong.

    Resolution Seven:

    We accept the invitation of Te Tau Ihu to host the next hui.

    This resolution acknowledged the need for further work on the issue and also recognised the role that Te Tau Ihu have played as parties in the case heard by the Court of Appeal.

    Some questions and answers

    Is the Declaration a statement denying access of non-Maori to the beaches?

    No. It is simply a clear and definitive synthesis of Maori views that the foreshore and seabed have always belonged to Iwi and Hapu.

    A declaration of rights in that sense is never a claim to deny access. Indeed even though the claim that Maori would deny access has often been repeated in the last several weeks it is mischievous and dishonest.

    What does the term 'tupuna rights' mean?

    It reflects the fact that the seabed and foreshore are vested in the ancient authority of rangatiratanga. They are part of what may be called a 'tupuna title'.

    Are they like guardianship rights?

    The obligation upon Iwi and hapu to be kaitiaki is part of the tupuna title but kaitiakitanga itself is only a part of the broader authority of rangatiratanga.

    Are tupuna rights use rights?

    They include the right to use taonga on agreed conditions.

    It has been suggested that they are only limited to the use of the resource because Maori had no concept of European-style ownership. However rights never exist in isolation - they must be derived from somewhere and in Maori law they are sourced not in a notion of individual ownership but in the collective authority of rangatiratanga. Without that authority there are no use rights.

    Did the Hui have a mandate to make such a Declaration?

    In Maori terms it clearly had such a mandate as most Iwi and many other Maori organisations were represented. Many of those unable to be present made written submissions.

    The Acting Prime Minister Jim Anderton has commented that "I don't take this particular declaration very seriously because I don't think it has any standing" is simply a gross misrepresentation of Maori realities.

    Will a government decision to allow the court cases to go ahead solve the issue?

    No. It will remove one of its more objectionable decisions but if it still persists in legislating to limit Maori to use rights, the basic constitutional issue remains because that would re-define the tupuna rights and diminish rangatiratanga.

    Moana Jackson, July 2003.

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    What you can do

    * Letters opposing the plan to extinguish Mäori customary title, and supporting the Paeroa Declaration, should be sent to: 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.

    * It would be great if you could also send copies of any letter/s to Metiria Turei email and to Peace Movement Aotearoa email or fax (04) 382 8173 - we would also appreciate receiving a copy of any replies you receive.

    If you are posting your letter/s, each should be addressed to the relevant politician and posted (no stamp needed) to Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

    * If you wish, you could also write to the Governor General expressing your concern about the government plan and asking her to use her prerogative power to ensure that the government does not breach common law. Contact details: Dame Silvia Cartwright, Governor General, post to Government House, Private Bag,Wellington or fax (04) 389 5536.

    * Contact details if you wish to write letters to the editor/s of the nationally circulated mass media: Christchurch Press email or fax (03) 364 8492; The Dominion Post email or fax (04) 4740257; New Zealand Herald email or fax (09) 373 6434; Sunday Star Times, fax (09) 309 0258; Listener email or fax (09) 360 3831.

    Back to foreshore and seabed information.

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