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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cabinet fights over foreshore act tests

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples has broken with the tradition of Cabinet secrecy by revealing divisions over the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill.

Dr Sharples says the Maori Party fought right to the end for changes to the bill which had its first reading yesterday.

He says of particular concern is the hoops Maori must jump to claim customary title to areas of the foreshore and seabed.

“We're not happy about many parts of the bill, be sure about that. We negotiated right up until the last Cabinet hearing and in that Cabinet hearing we fought for lower tests. We’re really disappointed we didn’t get a lower threshold for the test,” Dr Sharples says.

The Maori Party is counting as wins restoring the ability of Maori to go to court to establish customary title, and the mining, conservation and management rights which would come with that customary title.


Meanwhile, foundation Maori Party member Titewhai Harawira says the Marine and Coastal Area Bill contains repugnant provisions that weren't put to Maori during the consultation round.

Mrs Harawira says during the numerous hui she attended with attorney general Chris Finlayson, she never heard Maori say they were prepared to give up ownership for the foreshore and seabed.

But she says that's what the new law will do, even if iwi and hapu gain what's being called customary title.

“I went around Tai Tokerau. I went around Ngati Whatua and Tamaki and parts of Tainui just to listen to our people talking to Finlayson and not one person said ‘we don’t own it.’ Every person that made a submission to Finlayson said ‘we own it,’” Mrs Harawira says.

She says Maori Party co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia should resign over their failure to bring back the bill to members before they pledged their support for it ... as the party require.


Labour's Maori spokesperson, Parekura Horomia, wants Maori to face up to the damage alcohol is doing to their communities.

He says the Alcohol Advisory Council's submission to the Maori affairs select committee yesterday drew attention to some alarming trends.

These include a clear link between drinking and most crime committed by Maori, as well as more drinking by Maori women as the price of alcohol comes down.

“I've got nothing against drinking. It’s just what it does to our people and that it costs us $90,000 for a prisoner when we could put money in the front end in the sense of helping people not get into trouble,” Mr Horomia says.

He says Maori leaders must step up and tell rangatahi that drinking is not mana enhancing.


Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says the Marine and Coastal Area Bill represents a kind of utu or revenge for Maori.

Some prominent Maori Party supporters say the bill sent to select committee yesterday falls short of what they were looking for when the party was set up in response to Labour passing the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act.

But Dr Sharples says it redresses the major insult Maori felt when their right to go to court to seek customary ownership was taken away.

“It represents, one, able to go to court, and repeal, but it represents a kind of revenge so that we can not do this stuff any more. The message is don’t do that. Don’t legislate against a people or a group without consultation with them, and I think that is probably the best message that is going to come out of this,” Dr Sharples says.

The Maori Party is unhappy with many aspects of the bill, including the high threshhold for proving customary claims, and he doesn't believe it can be called a full and final settlement of the issue.


The Alcohol Advisory Council wants the Maori affairs select committee to turn its spotlight on drinking in the same way as it has smoking.

ALAC yesterday briefed the committee on Maori drinking patterns and its contribution to crime and ill health.

Its Maori manager, Gilbert Tauroa, says it's a problem that affects more Maori than high profile threats like methamphetamine and cannabis, with Maori having 4 times the alcohol-related mortality of non-Maori.

“We know that at least 8 percent of deaths in any one year for Maori can be attributed to alcohol and we know that is underreported. We know these are pretty heavy statements but we have the evidence to back that up,” Mr Tauroa says.

ALAC would like to see a change of attitude towards boozing across Maoridom.


About 30 Christchurch Maori kids and their whanau getting a break from the earthquake ridden city this weekend thanks to the hospitality of iwi in Te Tau Ihu.

Matt Hippolite from Ngati Koata says the top of the South Island iwi thought the offer of a weekend at Whakatu Marae in Motueka would be a good way to show manakitanga to their Ngai Tahu whanaunga.

The offer was gratefully accepted and a full schedule mapped out, weather permitting, including a trip to Abel Tasman National Park where Ngai Tahu has a stake in a tour business.

Matt Hippolite says the group will go home by way of Kaikoura, where they will be shown round by the whanau there.


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