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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Coastal select committee process a farce

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says the select committee examination of the Marine and Coastal Area Bill has been turned into a farce.

The bill was reported back to Parliament today unchanged, and the government says it will make changes at the committee stage.

Ms Turei says the National and Maori Party MPs blocked the other select committee members from making any changes or even considering the 500-page departmental report on the bill.

“This is legislation that confiscates Maori rights to their land, to their customary title and prevents them accessing genuine justice in the courts. It is being rushed through not only by the National Party but by the Maori Party itself. This is a terrible process we are going through at the moment,” she says.

Ms Turei says when Labour used a similar process to push through the Foreshore and Seabed Act, it had to come back to Parliament within weeks to amend major flaws that had slipped through unnoticed.


Labour leader Phil Goff says Parekura Horomia indicated his next parliamentary term would probably be his last before last week's caucus reshuffle.

Mr Goff demoted the long serving Ikaroa Rawhiti MP from fifth to tenth in Labour's line-up, but left his with his shadow responsibility for Maori affairs.

He says Mr Horomia is keen to create an orderly succession.

“Parekura is the kaumatua of our party. He is the leader of the Maori caucus in our party, we respect him for that, but what he’s telling us is, okay, he’ll be in his mid-60s in a few years time, he will want to phase out at that time and let’s bring through the new generation,” Mr Goff says.


A member of Auckland City's statutory board is hitting back at critics of the board's $3.5 million annual budget.

The council's strategy and finance committee approved the budget this week, which covers meeting fees for the nine members and any other Maori they appoint to council committees, staff, and special projects.

John Tamihere, who chairs the board’s finance sub-committee, says a newspaper claim the budget had blown out was an example of institutional racism.

“If you look at what the Pakehas spend on themselves, they spend 99.75 percent on themselves. In the seven cities that made up the super city, each one had their Maori response unit. You put those seven city costs together and we are saving them money,” Mr Tamihere says.


Maori lawyer Annette Sykes says the reporting back of the Marine and Coastal Area Bill to Parliament on the same day as Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira faces disciplinary procedures will cost the Maori Party support.

She says 99 percent of submissions to the select committee from both Maori and Pakeha were critical of the bill.

It came back to Parliament today unchanged, with the Government saying it will make amend it in the committee stages.

Ms Sykes says that shows the Maori Party has turned its back on its constituents.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Maori will not forget today and will not forgive them. It will be etched in their minds firstly for what they are going to Hone Harawira but most importantly for fast tracking such a significant piece of legislation. Confiscating as it is 677,000 square kilometres of this country, likely for the exploitation of major oil companies,” she says.

Ms Sykes says Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples misled the Maori nation by failing to mention in his state of the Maori nation speech at Waitangi in Saturday that the Marine and Coastal bill was about to come back to Parliament unamended.


Meanwhile, Maori academic Rawiri Taonui predicts a new Maori party could emerge out of the Hone Harawira fiasco.

The rebel Tai Tokerau MP is faced a disciplinary committee hearing today, after being suspended for the party caucus earlier in the week.

Mr Taonui says he could be expected to hold his electorate, which could give a new party an immediate foundation.

“It could be on the cards that the backlash against the Maori Party is so significant that a number of people might say hey, let’s have a new Maori Party and there are people around the country that might stand up as good candidates, people like Annette Sykes for instance in Waiariki,” Mr Taonui says.

He can't see Mr Harawira joining a new left wing party, as he is not prepared to subsume kaupapa Maori within a wider alliance.


The Prime Minister says the best way to fight child poverty is to get people off benefits and into work.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has slammed New Zealand's lack of action on child poverty in New Zealand, which it says is disproportionately affecting Maori and Pacific island children.

Mr Key says 220,000 New Zealand children are growing up in households dependent on a benefit, so the task won't be easy.

“For a lot of people they can change their life through work. That’s easier said than done. You’ve got a lot of people who maybe don’t have a lot of skills or they’re got to access childcare or they’ve got to have the confidence to get back into a job or they’ve got to be able to find a job, so no one’s arguing about stupid stuff,” Mr Key says.

He says people on the minimum wage get $440 a week compared with $200 on the unemployment benefit.


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