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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Foreshore formula sparks backlash fear

Labour MP Shane Jones says giving hapu veto rights over coastal development will create a backlash.

The proposal is contained in a consultation document on possible changes to the Foreshore and Seabed Act released yesterday.

Mr Jones says after a long and expensive process, the National Government has ended up in the same place as Labour was in 2004 in terms of recognising Maori customary rights.

The main difference is it is reopening the door to litigation, and giving hapu the final say on coastal development if they can establish customary title.

“Without accountability, without professional structures, you can see all sorts of developments held up, and in fact unlikely to go ahead unless there is a transfer of wealth etc. Hapu are taking a very treacherous step if they think the public will tolerate them having veto rights without them showing any obligation to wider community,” Mr Jones says.

He says the National government is lowering the bar for iwi to prove customary rights, but it's also diluting the value of those rights.


Meanwhile, Ngati Porou runanga chair Api Mahuika says recognition of mana is more important than title over the foreshore and seabed.

Options for replacing the Foreshore and Seabed Act released yesterday range from leaving coastal areas in Crown title, assuming it is under Maori title, or giving it a new status of public domain/ takiwa iwi whanui.

Mr Mahuika says Ngati Porou negotiated its own foreshore settlement based on tikanga and mana, rather than getting bogged down in arguments over title.

“The individualization of titles to land has resulted in alienation, confiscation, so what we are saying is the key to mana is it is an inherited right. Through that mana we then have a kaitiaki right which allows us to look after the foreshore, the land etc in our lifetime,” Mr Mahuika says.

He says the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act will give the East Coast tribe the chance to renegotiate aspects of its settlement, which has been signed off but still not passed into law.


Housing New Zealand has been flooded with interest from Maori groups wanting to undertake innovative housing developments.

Tamati Olsen, the corporation's chief Maori advisor, says 16 runanga have applied for the half dozen or so Maori Demonstration Partnerships.

Typical of the schemes wanting to tap into the $5.5 million putea is a Northland runanga that wants to build ten communal houses.

“The houses have chopped down living spaces so it’s more about sleeping in the houses and small living spaces and one big communal area for the whole of the ten houses,” Mr Olsen says.

Some asset rich, cash poor iwi have missed out because of a requirement partners put up half the cost of the project.


The iwi leaders group is disappointed at the proposed replacement for the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

The group says the plan released for consultation yesterday may not satisfy the rights, expectations and values of iwi and hapu.

Matiu Rei from Ngati Toa says the offer doesn't acknowledge Maori mana over the takutai moana, and falls far short of the customary authority that was sought.

“The crown was never able to prove they had extinguished the title Maori claim to the foreshore and seabed so we’re not so happy there has been no recognition of our enduring mana over the foreshore and seabed,” Mr Rei says.

It's likely hapu and iwi will end up in court or negotiating with the Crown to have their rights recognised.


Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says principles introduced in a bill for managing Canterbury rivers will effectively replace the Resource Management Act, to the huge detriment of Maori and the nation as a whole.

The Environment Canterbury Bill was introduced yesterday, a day after the Government sacked Environment Canterbury regional council and replaced it with commissioners.

Mr Harawira says the bill was sneaked into parliament during the foreshore and seabed debate as a local measure, but in fact it gives unelected commissioners total administrative power, cutting out the Minister for the Environment and the Environment Court.

“You are taking out of the hands of government agency an asset that has critical value to the whole nation and putting it in the hands of officials who are appointed by a Government hell bent on commercialising assets,” he says.

Mr Harawira says the asset grab won't stop at water but will include other minerals and natural resources.


The Toogood whanau from Ngai Tahu will be closely following the revived It's in the Bag as it moves around the country over the next three months

Spokesperson Kit Toogood says the family was happy to pass over the rights when Maori Television wanted to resurrect the quiz show, with up to 40 percent Maori language content.

His father Selwyn Toogood launched the series in the 1950s and continued it on television into the 80s, tempting thousands of contestants with the money or the bag.

“My father was very proud of his Ngai Tahu whakapapa and we thought it was an interesting proposition to take the show back to the smaller centres which is really where it originated, particularly in the radio days,” Mr Toogood says.

His late father would have been thrilled to see how much reo the mainstream audience at the pilot filming understood and how they responded to presenters Pio Terei and Stacey Morrison.

Filming starts in Dargaville on April 7.

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