May 15, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Maori Party responds to attacks by a few

2 min read

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell has responded to critics of the new Foreshore & Seabed legislation saying they represent only a small portion of those who marched against the Foreshore and Seabed Act enacted by Labour in 2004.

Some commentators have suggested that these sentiments are quite similar to the remarks made by then Prime Minister Helen Clark when responding to challenges put forth by protesters, suggesting that only a few had problems with the legislation.

“There are some pretty scurrilous claims coming over the wire including that anyone can make a claim. Misinformation such as all claims must be settled within six years under the new bill is a load of rubbish theres no deadline on settling claims, only one for lodging them. And of course our people have the option of putting a pro-forma or holding claim into the High Court while they build their case.

Mr Flavell also rebutted statements that the new bill was a renaming exercise.

The new bill gives our people access to the courts a right that was taken away from them in previous legislation, so all this talk about names is really just politicking.

The Maori Party fought long and hard to ensure that the legislation acknowledged the enduring mana-based relationship of Maori, as tangata whenua, with the foreshore and seabed, Mr Flavell said.

The most significant criticism with the new law is that it still considers ownership of the seabed and foreshore to be inherently owned by the Crown. So that although Maori will be able to go to Court to fight for their land (something the old Act did not allow for) the land is considered the Crown’s until Tangata Whenua convince a court that it is theirs.

“In fact in the interpretation section of the bill, it describes an applicant group as meaning one or more iwi, hapu and whanau groups that seek recognition of their protected customary rights or customary marine title.

“Last time I looked, the meaning of iwi, hapu and whanau were strictly defined by whakapapa so I fail to see how this can be so misconstrued.

Tangata whenua asked us to repeal the 2004 act and address the basic inequality it created in denying Maori access to the courts to seek clarification of rights.

“We are proud that we have finally been able to achieve this and we acknowledge the huge investment that so many have made towards ensuring repeal and restoring the rights of access.

Let us not forget the hideousness of the 2004 act, that allowed for mass confiscation, and that today we are at a point where our people have a better chance of getting back control of the taku taimoana.

3 thoughts on “Maori Party responds to attacks by a few

  1. Actually, I think they are/were as bad as each other. Both Parties put forwrad Bills which dispossessed Maori by handing the Crown/Govt rights they did not have prior. Different cheeks of the same butt…

  2. Labour MP Shane Jones says the new Marine and Coastal Area Bill is worse for Maori than Labour's Foreshore and Seabed Act.

    He says the main change is that the Government has taken on board a submission by former Labour Attorney-General Michael Cullen about removing the assumption of Crown ownership.

    But he says the bar has been set very high for iwi or hapu to prove their ancestral links to an area so they can get customary title.

  3. Maori Party may have another go at seabed bill


    The Maori Party will not rule out using post-election negotiations to try to get a better deal on the foreshore and seabed despite agreeing to support the National Party's new law.

    The Government introduced the Marine and Coastal Area Bill this week and Prime Minister John Key said he believed it was a lasting solution to the matter and would not be revisted.

    However, acting Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell said the bill was the best the party could negotiate in the circumstances and it was possible there would be "another time for our people to come back and have another go in the future".

    "We will certainly be looking at it again, as we will with all other policy positions we have at the moment. What happens after the next election, who knows? Anything can happen and we leave that to iwi to give us a lead on."

    The party was "very comfortable" supporting the bill through Parliament because it addressed its two main concerns – repealing the 2004 act and restoring the right for iwi to go to court to seek customary title.

    Although Maori Party MP Hone Harawira has objected to aspects of the new regime, such as vesting the coastline as a common area rather than allowing an overarching form of Maori ownership, Mr Flavell said he was confident all five Maori Party MPs would support the legislation "because it's got our name on it".

    Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said it was in the public interest for the bill to be durable and he hoped that would be the case. "I don't think people want to be relitigating this every decade. It's in the public interest that we have a durable piece of legislation."

    The bill was to receive its first reading tomorrow but that has been postponed until next week to allow the Maori Party co-leaders to be in Parliament. Both Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples are overseas this week. A party spokeswoman said they had expected the bill to be introduced a fortnight ago and had made travel arrangements before it was delayed.

    The Labour Party has also promised to support the bill at its first reading, saying that, although it makes little changes in substance from the Foreshore and Seabed Act, the party does not wish to play politics on the matter.

    However, the Green Party will oppose it. Co-leader Metiria Turei said it did not address the fundamental injustice of Maori losing ownership rights.

    The bill will repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act and allow coastal iwi to seek customary title through the courts or in negotiations with the Government. They have six years to make any claims.

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