Revelations About The Disastrous Marine & Coastal Area Act.
Ten things you wont be told by the government or part-Maori.
The Marine and Coastal Area Act 2011 [MCA], passed by National as part of its secret deal to buy the Parliamentary votes of the race-based Maori Party, is arguably the greatest swindle in New Zealand history.
Ever since the introduction of British law in 1840, the foreshore and seabed were owned by the Crown – i.e. public ownership for the benefit of all.
This long-standing pillar of British law was stood on its head by Chief Justice Sian Elias and her fellow judges in 2003 in the Ngati Apa case when, ignoring long-standing precedents, if not their judicial oaths, they indulged their own prejudices by declaring that after all these years the Crown did not own the foreshore and seabed, thus throwing the whole of our hitherto publicly owned coast and seabed open to claims by opportunistic coastal tribes, which was likely the whole point of Elias’ trickery.
To remedy this dishonest and absurd decision the Labour/N.Z. First government brought in the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004, which restored the traditional legal position that these vital and valuable resources were owned by the Crown, i.e. you and me. End of story.
Well, it would have been but for John Key’s dirty deal in selling out the people of New Zealand so as to buy the Parliamentary votes of the small and unrepresentative Maori Party.
With his usual intellectual laziness, Key handed the whole matter over to Treaty Minister, Christopher Finlayson, the biased, deceitful, unscrupulous and deeply compromised ex-lawyer for Ngai Tahu in their dodgy Treaty settlement and whose actions as a minister suggest that he might well still be working for them since, under his thieving and racist Marine and Coastal Area Act, Ngai Tahu stand to benefit in no small way.
The Marine and Coastal Area Act repealed the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 and legislatively took the foreshore and seabed out of Crown (public) ownership for the first time since 1840, so that it was owned by nobody. And, if nobody owns it, there is nobody to defend it against claims by coastal tribes for a “Customary Marine Title” under the Act.
Not surprisingly, much of the coast and seabed is now under claim by tribes for Customary Marine Title which, as we will see below, is effectively full ownership of these former public commons.
Among the rights that can be exercised by the lucky applicant groups that win Customary Marine Title over an area of foreshore and seabed are:
1. Unlike others, it does not have to pay coastal occupation charges under the Resource Management Act or royalties for taking sand and shingle from the beach. Section 60 (b).
2. It has the sole right to issue permits for watching marine mammals like whales. For a fee, of course. Section 62 (1) (d).
3. It can issue, change, review and revoke a New Zealand coastal policy statement. Section 62 (1) (d).
4. Anyone who gets permission under the Resource Management Act to carry out an activity in a Customary Marine Title area – e.g. building or extending a boat shed on piles like those in Auckland’s Orakei Basin and at Paremata and Evans Bay in Wellington, must also get the permission of the tribe that holds customary marine title over the area – again for a fee. If you build such a structure without tribal permission, you can be IMPRISONED for up to two years or fined up to $300,000, of which only 10% of the fine goes to the Crown while the other 90% goes to the tribe, thus giving the tribe a huge financial incentive for vigorous, if not vindictive, policing. Section 69.
5. A group that holds a Customary Marine Title can veto DoC proposals within the Customary Marine Title area [ Section 72 (1) ] and there is no right of appeal against any refusal of permission. Section 73 (3) (b).
6. The group can declare any part of its customary marine title area to be “wahi tapu” [ Section 78 (1) ] to which it can restrict or FORBID public access. Section 26 (2) and (3) and Section 79 (1) (b). “Wahi tapu” means any place alleged to be “sacred to Maori in a traditional, spiritual, religious, ritual or mythological sense.” Section 9 and section 6 of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014. So, allowing “wahi tapu” to be declared on the basis of myth opens the way for the tribe to close off the best fishing grounds and surf breaks to the public for any reason they can dream up on the grounds of a conveniently concocted myth.
There is nothing in the Act to prevent a tribe declaring the WHOLE of their customary marine title area to be wahi tapu although this is more likely to be done on a progressive basis over the years since section 79 (3) (a) and (b) allows agreements over wahi tapu to be “varied.” However, since the whole purpose of the Act is to swipe from the public and give to part-Maori groups NZ’s foreshore and seabed, any “variation” will almost certainly be to expand the wahi tapu area. A part-Maori Labour M.P. once hissed under his breath in Parliament, “We will eventually get ALL of the coast through wahi tapu” and, by this Act, Finlayson has opened the gates for such wholesale theft from, and betrayal of, the people of New Zealand.
7. To enforce a “wahi tapu” ban against the anglers, boaties, surfers, dog walkers and other beach users “trespassing”on these formerly publicly owned areas, tribal wardens can enforce fines of up to $5,000. Yes – a fine of up to $5,000 for intentionally walking on or swimming in an area that used to be publicly owned. Section 81 (2).
8. A tribe with customary marine title owns all the minerals on or under the seabed – out to 22.2km – except for petroleum, gold, silver and uranium, and can charge royalties for their extraction – money that used to go to the Treasury to help finance things such as health and education but under the Act are now for the sole benefit of the numerically small tribe. The most common and valuable mineral under the sea is iron sands, for which these lucky tribal members will get the benefits based on nothing more than happening to be born with a particular (and privileged) bloodline. Sections 62 (1) (f) and section 83.
9. Tribes with customary marine title can also charge royalties to councils and others for taking sand and shingle from the beach. Section 84 (2) (b)
10. The tribe can make its own planning document – Sections 62 (1) (g) and section 85 – which impose obligations on the Director-General of Conservation in formulating policy (Section 90), on the Minister of Fisheries in settling or varying sustainability measures (Section 91), and on regional councils (Section 93).
Thus do the tribes get what is effectively full ownership of areas that always have been in public ownership and still should be. Tribes never had any of these rights before Finlayson introduced this thieving Act to benefit his ex-client, Ngai Tahu, and his other favoured tribes.
Every one of these above-mentioned advantages for undeserving tribes is a violation of the long held rights of all other New Zealanders.
Of all the racist and divisive laws that have afflicted New Zealand in recent years for no other reason than to enrich the pale faced, tribal elite, the Marine and Coastal Area Act is by far the worst. Hardly surprising since its creator, Christopher Finlayson, is almost certainly the most deceitful, unethical and compromised Minister in our history.
Unless we are to become a totally apartheid society it will have to be repealed and any customary marine titles granted under it will have to be annulled without compensation. But that won’t happen until we have a more honest and accountable government – one that does not sell out the rights of ordinary New Zealanders in order to buy temporary political support from the tribal elite.
The beaches and seabed of our beautiful country should belong to all New Zealanders EQUALLY – as they did before Key’s National government descended into the mud of racist politics for selfish and crooked reasons.
We are all New Zealanders whatever the colour of our skins or our bloodlines and there is nothing more repugnant than legislation that gives superior rights to people of a particular race or tribe.
We all pay the same taxes, we are all liable for service in war time, so why should people with one particular bloodline to a coastal tribe be given superior rights over other citizens? That is a throwback to the tribalism and feudalism that the chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi to get away from.
If we don’t stand up for our rights and for a democratic and non-racial New Zealand, then we will soon be second class citizens in the land that was built by the sweat and toil of our pioneer forebears.