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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sharples downplays effect of hard fought bill

After years of fighting for it, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says nothing will really change with the passing of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act.

With Labour, ACT, the Greens and newly-independent MP Hone Harawira uniting in opposition, it was the Maori Party's four votes that got the bill over the line yesterday.

Dr Sharples says while the law gives Maori the right to test their claims for customary title through the courts, the bar for ownership is high.

“I am glad it's out of the way because at the end of the day nothing’s going to change really except some iwi are going to do some development, others are able to do major development, and people are still able to go down to the beach and swim and fish and do all the things we used to do,” he says.

Dr Sharples says the door is left open for future parliaments to change the law.


Labour MP Shane Jones says the Maori Party has used the foreshore and seabed reform to mask its inability to make gains on issues like employment, education and health.

The list MP, who is standing against Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makaurau, says it is bizarre the Maori Party co-leader is now claiming the new law won't change anything.

He says Maori voters may not understand the intricacies of the Act, but they will understand the Maori Party has taken them for a ride.

“They understand what is happening to may kids, what is happening to me, am I feeling any more vigorous, am I feeling better off and I think the Maori Party has used the seabed and foreshore issue as a major diversion away from that issue because once they start deal with that issue it’s evident how impotent and powerless they are in the face of Steven Joyce and John Key and Bill English,” Mr Jones says.

He says the law will pit New Zealanders against each other.


A former member of New Zealand's mission in Bamiyan says locals appreciated their contribution.

The Afghan government has set a deadline of 2014 for Afghan police and soldiers to take charge of security nationwide.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully says the New Zealand army's provincial reconstruction team in Bamiyan will be ready to hand over well before then.

Travis Russell of Nga Puhi and Ngati Awa says his time there in 2005 was a great experience, and believes it was appreciated by Afghan police and community members.

He says the New Zealanders taught them some communication skills, and how to maintain a presence in an area.


The policeman responsible for liaising with the families of foreigners killed in the Christchurch earthquake is praising the contribution of controversial kaumatua Maurice Gray.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has attacked the police for continuing to work with the former Anglican priest, who earlier this year was discharged without conviction after being found guilty of solemnising a 2006 wedding he did not attend.

Superintendant Wally Haumaha says Mr Gray provided essential support as rescue workers from around the world retrieved bodies from the rubble, and many were moved to tears as his karakia were translated.

This also led to the Australian police requesting a Maori blessing when they left for home.


Independent MP Hone Harawira says the absence of Maori in parliament for yesterday's third reading of the Marine and Coastal Area - Takutai Moana - Act was significant.

Mr Harawira says legislation affecting Maori is traditionally witnessed by iwi who will come in bus loads to fill the public galleries.

He says yesterday Maori Party MPs had to get their staff members to attend to make up numbers.

He didn't feel alone voting against the Bill because he knows Maori people understand why he took his stand.


An organiser of this week's conference in Auckland on homelessness says Maori are more vulnerable to ending up on the streets.

Iris Pahau from the Coalition to End Homelessness says anyone may be one event away from homelessness.

But she says 85 percent of people with nowhere to live in New Zealand are Maori, and among the homeless are many who have been released from prison, of who turn 16 and are no longer in the care of the Child, Youth and Family Services.

She says the Christchurch earthquake is an example of how homelessness can strike people without warning.


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