Monday, October 10, 2005

Foreshore too far to fore

The Maori Party has the potential to be an independent voice for Maori within an MMP system, if it can get over the trauma of its birth.
The problem which seems to be emerging is the baggage party co-leader Tariana Turia is taking into coalition talks.
Being told to lie down in the back of the limo may take a while to get over, but get over it she must if the party is to have any chance of making a long term contribution.
According to the Sunday Star Times, Turia is talking with Don Brash about what it would take for the Maori Party to support a National-led government.
That is despite Maori voters showing almost no appetite for National.
Turia says if National axed Labour's Foreshore and Seabed Act, as it has considered doing, Maori Party members may come in behind.
"It's the number one issue why this party started. If a political party was prepared to repeal and we were able to get through some of the other discussions that we're having, they will go with who repeals," Turia said.
At the risk of seeming insensitive, Tariana should stop using the foreshore and seabed issue as the excuse for her disaffection with the Labour Party and her inability to advance her political ambitions inside what is an extremely tough environment.
Sure, Labour did a bad thing constitutionally by refusing to let the top of the South Island case go through the courts. It was stupid. It was inept. It was Margaret Wilson at her worst (which is pretty bad). But let's pretend we are in an alternative universe and think what might have happened.
For starters, there would have been no let up from National whipping up the "beaches will be for Maori only" nonsense. As it is, if the Act was going to have such a heinous effect, why was National able to get away with its Beaches: Iwi/Kiwi billboards? I don't recall Turia challenging the accuracy of that meme.
Meanwhile the issue would have been back before the courts, chewing up more time and legal fees for what could have been an uncertain outcome. The same problems with actually identifying and defining customary rights would have remained.
The fact is, as a nation New Zealand has always been extremely uncomfortable with customary rights. Occasionally they have been codified, such as the right to take muttonbirds from the offshore islands of the south, but in the main anything with a whiff of exclusive license has been resisted. Where practices have persisted, it has either been because white NZ does not see them (ie, attaches no monetary value to the practice) or because of a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" environment.
If the claimants had succeeded in establishing their rights at common law, it would then create the problem of writing those into statute. While not strictly necessary, the fact is in the absence of large amounts of case law, the ministries would be pushing the politicians to come up with legislation or regulation to help them do their jobs.
More importantly, let us go back to where all this started - the carve-up of coastal space for aquaculture by the Marlborough local authority with no regard for the rights and aspirations of tangata whenua.
The crazy thing for Labour, and an indication of their mismanagement of the whole matter, was the fact it did come up with a solution to that problem, by treating aquaculture space as a subset of the wider fisheries settlement. That solution was always on the table, but when it was announced, it said it had nothing to do with foreshore and seabed. Stupid. Inept. Etc.
As it is, the Labour's Foreshore and Seabed Act is unworkable, in part because of Winston Peters insistence there be no legal aid for claimants. It needs to be tweaked to make it workable, but it's no big thing. People either have a relationship with their beaches or they don't.
The more important thing is to ensure the 20% of aquaculture space going for iwi is usable. That means making sure there are robust processes to ensure iwi don't get the marginal bits, and could involve some changes to the Resource Management Act, Marine Act, Local Government Act etc to ensure the "settlement" isn't negated by red tape.
That means the Maori party knuckling down and doing some real politics, rather than this fantasy stuff of snuggling up to a party whose current Maori policy is "shut up and be assimilated".


Blogger Danny Butt said...

Hi Adam

Interesting piece - one thing you don't cover is that the National Party have historically been more amenable to the idea of iwi self-determination than Labour. (Mason Durie covers this pretty well in his book). This might be usually to the detriment of "Maori" generally, but it's important history. So I don't think that the flirting with national is simply about Tariana's political agendas, remembering that there is still a strong small-l liberal bloc within the nationals who aren't racially driven and support iwi property rights provided these can be established under common law. Admittedly, this bloc seems to be in the minority at the moment lol. And I agree with you that Tariana has been quieter than she might have been on Brash's race-baiting.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Danny butt and Adam, I'd be interested to see you specify some instances of Dr Rrash's 'race baiting.' I read his Orewa 1 speech a few times and I couldn't see it. Sure, every man and his dog or commentator said he was playing the 'race card' or 'maori bashing' or whatever but for once, let's just put the real evidence, if there is anything other than hyperbole, on the table and have a good look at it. Let's see what he actually said rather than what evryone else thinks he said or says he said.

3:50 PM  
Blogger t selwyn said...

If you don't see that it's racist then maybe you are? Is that not a reasonable conclusion to draw? I don't know how many times I have to direct you to my article - because you are the exact sort of person that needs to read it if you have read the Orewa Speech without commentary and still don't get it. You would benefit greatly from it:

How many times can you keep repeating crap about "let's just put the real evidence, if there is anything other than hyperbole, on the table and have a good look at it. Let's see what he actually said..." The evidence is there. I've told you where it is. This is becoming tiresome - find another wind up.

The F&S Act is the genesis of the Party - if they have to go with National to get rid of it then that would send a very clear signal to Labour. The context would have to be in an arrangement including other mutually compatible things of course - but Hone is playing bad cop to Turia and Sharples good cop so I'm not sure what the position really is - which is a good strategy.

The issue is Clark and Wilson want everyone in their pre-arranged little box every bit as much as Don and Gerry. They interpreted the F&S ruling as interfering with their 20% scheme for aquaculture. In that context it is an even worse decision. Wilson's 10,000 word Attorney-General's report that admitted it was racist but that they should do it anyway was a colonial-style low-point for any administration let alone a Labour one. Legislation should have been passed to guarantee public access to everyone and then a proper consideration of the scope of rights should have been undertaken. Clark calculated she needed redneck votes more than Maori votes and made the call - that's her ruthless, unprincipled, knee-jerk, reactionary style and I hope she pays dearly for it.

Last week, Claude Edwards, Kaumatua of Whakatohea passed away and his case asserting customary usage over Waiotahi beach is still in the system - as the first of it's kind.

He told me that by taking the case he could prove that usage implies regulation through kiatiakitanga because all the precedents from the past must be used in determining the case. He didn't go into the details but that was the gist. He was confident.

The Act has been changed once before and can be again - National would be more likely to do that than Labour. How can Wilson, Clark and Cullen sit down with Turia and help her unravel their own knitting? It is Clark, from what I understand, that is the problem - not Turia.

The Maori Party must address the F&S issue or they are out next time.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

I'll get to Danny's point later.
I refused to immerse myself deeply in F&S because, apart from showing up prejudices and weaknesses in Labour's approach which were already aparrent to those with intimate knowledge of negotiations, it was not an issue which was likely to have a sensible outcome either way.
If it had been framed in purely economic terms - the Crown should not be assigning coastal space because it never bought that space - the Crown could argue it was all covered under the fisheries settlement, and handed over the 20%. Don't forget, the Crown never agreed to the "mana moana, mana whenua" line - that was a meme invented as part of the positioning among Maori for the fisheries allocation fight.
While F&S was the catalyst for this particular incarnation of a Maori party, its genesis was probably the vacuum created by Willie Jackson's destruction of Mana Motuhake (or you can argue the subsuming of Mana Motuhake into the Alliance) which created a vacuum. Matiu Rata planted the seed that there should be a separate party representing Maori interests, and I think there will continue to be one, whether or not the Maori Party succeeds long term.
I'm not saying "get over it". I'm saying the Maori Party needs to be a lot more constructive than to just say repeal the Act. What is its replacement.
Thanks for tellng me about Claude. Whakatohea has lost a totara.

12:13 PM  
Blogger sagenz said...

"beaches will only be for Maori nonsense." Not nonsense at all. they will be for Maori and those prepared to pay based on my experience.

9:33 PM  

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