Giving away the Foreshore and the Beaches
In Twisting the Treaty, the Marine and Coastal Area Act is described as “the greatest swindle in New Zealand history” and that is exactly how it is turning out. A large part of the North Island (see map) is already under claim by greedy and opportunistic tribal groups. Often led by people who are only one eighth or one sixteenth Maori.
While some claims are decided in secret by the biased Treaty Minister, Christopher Finlayson, others are proceeding through the High Court process.
The secret deals which strip the public of long held rights to our beaches and coast are done without the public having any input or being consulted in any way. To give some semblance of “respectability” to these dirty deals, Finlayson is handing oversight of them (on a jobs for the girls basis) to people from whom he gets the result he wants. People like Judith Potter, a retired High Court judge, whom he is paying with taxpayers’ money to advise him on the Ngati Porou claim on the East Coast. She has shown her bias from the start.
Known for her arrogance, she has carried this unfortunate trait over to her new job as Finlayson’s puppet by refusing to hear any argument against granting customary marine title to tribes from the Council of Outdoor Recreational Associations of New Zealand (CORANZ). That organisation represents tens of thousands of outdoor recreational people whose rights will be adversely affected by any grant of customary marine title that she might recommend.
Not all claims for customary marine title are going through Finlayson’s secret deal negotiations. Some are going through the High Court process – as allowed by the Act. Even here we can see the full extent of Finlayson’s machinations.
When a tribe wants to claim customary marine title through the High Court, it is required by the Marine and Coastal Area Act to insert one advertisement in the Public Notices section of one local daily paper ONCE ONLY. Finlayson sneaked this into the Act so as to keep the public in the dark as much as possible about this massive swindle of their rights. Who reads the Public Notices anyway?
Thus did a claim for two of the Titi islands, south-west of Stewart Island, get to the High Court without CORANZ or any other organisation becoming aware of it. When CORANZ eventually found out, they applied to become a party to the action so as to protect the public interest (nobody else was going to) but they were rejected for being out of time.
It is not possible for any organisation to read the Public Notices in every daily newspaper every day and so the claim over the Titi islands is more likely to proceed for the lack of opposition to the claim by anyone like CORANZ. It is the traditional role of the Attorney-General to protect the public interest but, as the biased and deeply compromised Treaty Minister Finlayson is also the Attorney-General, the people of New Zealand no longer have a Minister to protect the public interest protection that they have had in the past.
Fortunately CORANZ did become aware of the cheeky and greedy claim to the whole of the foreshore and seabed of the Mahia peninsula (out to 22.2 km at sea) and from Paritu to the mouth of the Nuhaka River. The claim was lodged by the local part-Maori radical, Pauline Tangiora, JP, QSO, QSM, believed to have been born in Woodville and grown up in that area and Palmerston North.
Despite her civil awards, her past actions have included physically trying to stop the pouring of concrete for a public boat ramp and taking the Mahia Boating and Fishing Club to court to try to stop them building their clubhouse. She lost that one and was ordered to pay the club some thousands of dollars in costs. That was several years ago and they have never seen a cent of it. Yet she has the resources to mount an expensive claim as the spokesperson for her adopted coastal tribal group. In other words, she uses the law when it suits her and ignores it when it doesn’t.
By her claim Pauline Tangiora is causing unnecessary racial divisions and much unrest among landowners and local part-Maori, who have got along well together for generations. Furthermore she has only a very small amount of Maori blood and, but for her facial tattoo – presumably to give her some credibility – she could very well pass for a European.
Her claim is completely unjustifiable as the Rongomaiwahine tribe, which she fronts, has NOT had continuing and exclusive use of the foreshore and seabed of the Mahia peninsula as required by the Act in order to get customary marine title. So, in order to protect the public rights of access to the beaches and sea around this peninsula, CORANZ has become a party to oppose the Rongomaiwahine claim in the High Court – as has the Gisborne District Council and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, but the Councils’ resolution to see the matter through is extremely doubtful.
Here can be seen the full extent of Finlayson’s deviousness as, like his fellow lawyer, Geoffrey Palmer, who allowed claims to the Waitangi Tribunal to go all the way back to 1840, it seems that the greatest reason for the Marine and Coastal Area Act is to make things as complicated as possible so as to create a lawyers’ bonanza – just as Palmer did with hundreds of millions of dollars having gone into the pockets of lawyers from his Treaty process. And lots more to come.
Finlayson has done everything to prevent the public having any say in his theft of the foreshore and seabed. Governments are meant to protect the public interest but this Key government puts private interests – e.g. Sky City and the tribal elite – ahead of the public interest and that is why it is so dangerous.
CORANZ is doing the job that the government should be doing. Its financial resources to pay the continuing legal bills on this one Mahia claim are anything but unlimited and it desperately needs donations so that it can continue to oppose the Rongomaiwahine claim which, if left unopposed, might well succeed in whole or in part even though the tribe does not fulfil the requirements of the Act. These days judges do funny things – e.g. Sian Elias’ disgraceful behaviour in the Ngati Apa case when she deliberately ignored the stated law to indulge her own prejudices.
We have reached a terrible state when a relatively small, private organisation like CORANZ has to uphold the public interest because the government is failing to do so. Worse, in his secret negotiations with tribes who pursue that route rather than through the High Court, Finlayson is doling out to his favoured tribes rights that he has stolen off the public of New Zealand by his thieving and racist Marine and Coastal Area Act
1Law4All is very concerned at this theft of public commons and violation of the public interest for the sake of the racist and separatist agenda of this government. That is why 1Law4All sponsored a public meeting on the matter on 2nd February at the Napier Sailing Club. Dr. Hugh Barr, the secretary of CORANZ and author of the book, The Gathering Storm over the Foreshore and Seabed, spoke to about 80 people and informed them of the issues.
1Law4All will continue to oppose this Mahia claim on the grounds that it is racist, separatist, thieving and does not meet the requirements of the Act. We strongly urge our members to bring this matter to the attention of as many people as possible. Perhaps even donate to the special account that has been set up by CORANZ for its legal costs and for no other purpose. It is CORANZ Rongomaiwahine Trust Fund Account 03-0566-0207094-26 or cheques to the same fund at CORANZ, P.O. Box 1876, Wellington 6140. This is one thing that we can do to ensure that future generations will have the same rights and enjoyment of the beaches and coast that we have. For now!
The beaches and seabed of our country should belong to all New Zealanders EQUALLY – as they did before Key’s National government descended into the muck 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 in 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 out pioneer forebears.