Not dark yet, but it’s getting there

Allan's beach at dusk, Dunedin, New Zealand
(Image, “Allan’s beach at dusk, Dunedin, New Zealand”, stolen from Nicola Romanò)

The Foreshore and Seabed deal is not over yet, at least not as far as Hone Harawira is concerned. He has come out swinging (audio) against the government, saying the consultation process which resulted in the agreement was “bullshit”, that Key has shown poor faith and “pandered to rednecks” with a Foreshore and Seabed repeal proposal which is all take and no give:

[The government] took the two things which would make Pākehā happy and refused to give the one thing which would make Māori happy.

The two things are guaranteed public access and inalienability; the one thing is Māori title. Furthermore, he’s reaffirmed a commitment to ongoing struggle for a more equitable resolution:

We may have to wait for another Labour government, we may have to wait for a formal coalition between the māori party and the Greens together, we may have to wait for hell to freeze over and ACT to give it to us, I don’t know.

This is good, and in my view it’s the position the party ought to be taking. But paradoxically, he supports the party’s decision to accept the agreement, saying it’s “a step in the right direction”. This can only make sense if whatever legislation which replaces the FSA is non-enduring; essentially, another step along that road laid down by the Good Intentions Paving Company, rather than the full-and-final settlement which will carve the proposal in legislative stone.

But I think if they follow this path, it will be all over. I don’t think they have a hope of being able to play this as an ongoing struggle, having consented to it. As Bright Red said at The Standard yesterday, both major parties will see this issue as settled and will suffer terribly if they bring it back to the table. The only reason the FSA was even up for debate is that even National could see the manifest injustice of legislation being rammed through against the vehement opposition of the group most subject to it; while many among National derided the FSA as being too generous, nevertheless the process of its passage was repugnant to them.

Hone Harawira and many others no doubt think that this process was similarly repugnant, but that view has little legitimacy since the Iwi Leadership Group and the māori party have willingly agreed to it. This is how liberal society works; this is tino rangatiratanga in action: you make your decisions and you live with their consequences. The only hope now, it seems, is that the eventual bill drawn up from the Agreement in Principle signed yesterday will provide some pretext for the party and the ILG to withdraw its support. This will come at an enormous cost in terms of goodwill, but I have no doubt that despite his protestations to the contrary, Hone Harawira is getting to work on setting the stage for such action already.


16 thoughts on “Not dark yet, but it’s getting there

  1. so the deal is done and then hone comes out with his outrage – I’m sick of this approach – it is dishonest and treats people as idiots. Front up harawira BEFORE the vote and shut up after.

    I have no good feelings about any parties involved in this sham decision. The Iwi leaders Group have tried to help out the maori party but have completely lost their credibility – all fire and patu before. And after – roll over and pat my tummy.

    The maori party “we said we’d repeal and we have repealed’ lines are so weak. They have lost my vote.

    We have a long way to go to create equality and fairness in this country and this decision has just set us back even further.

  2. Hey Phil, thanks. I’ve had a read, but have spent too much time on this in the past 24 hours, so I’ll respond tonight.


  3. Good old Hone, he is so furious that he plans to do nothing about it.

    It is time to face the facts. The Maori Party are a bunch of shysters who have been taking the piss out of their voters.

  4. Both the Maori Party and the ILG would appear to have opted for a bird in the hand, Lew. It’s a reasonable position, I suppose, given the likely political consequences of their walking away from National.

    They, and especially the ILG lawyers, will now use the time required for the legislation to be drafted and introduced to secure the maximum possible in behind-the-scenes negotiations and lobbying. They have some heavy-hitters in this regard and we may be surprised at the results.

    From the Pakeha side, the really interesting thing to watch for will be the rise (or failure to rise) of some sort of pressure group to contest the repeal legislation.

    If such a group emerges it will be an important test of how far NZ has come since 2004. If it fails to attract mass support then the Government will breathe a huge sigh of relief, pass the legislation, and move on.

    If, however, it turns out that the sleeping dogs kicked awake at Orewa have lost none of their bite, Key will face some very hard decisions. Will he dismiss a Pakeha “hikoi” as the work of “haters and wreckers” and refuse to meet its organisers?

    We shall see.

  5. It almost seems to me that Hone is actually supporting the decision – his public show of outrage but refusal to actually do anything to prevent the act seems to imply he is actually providing a role model for Maori who feel the same way as him – shout and rage, but continue to support the Maori Party and continue to support the government.

    In other words, while it would be going too far to suggest this is his designated role, I think Sharples, Turia and Key are all quite happy for him to play it out.

  6. If, however, it turns out that the sleeping dogs kicked awake at Orewa have lost none of their bite, Key will face some very hard decisions. Will he dismiss a Pakeha “hikoi” as the work of “haters and wreckers” and refuse to meet its organisers?

    Course not. He’ll tell them he understands their point of view and that, “as even Labour says”, nothing has really changed; and a picture of him kissing a photogenic baby will be widely disseminated. Then he’ll nip back inside and reassure Pita that he certainly has achieved “full-blooded title”.

    And the sleeping dogs have not only lost their bite, but as diametrically opposed to Orewa, the media will tip-toe around them instead of incessantly poking them with sharp sticks.

    Winnie, on the other hand, will be whittling as we speak….

  7. I wonder how many iwi will look to the deal that East Coast Maori made with Cullen as a template … .

  8. Jock Anderson was on National Radio with my co-blogger the other day and he explained that he is an immigrant and he said that Maori should understand that they have to share and that just because they got here first doesn’t mean they own it.

    That idea is what Helen Clark has articulated before and that is what many white people firmly believe. This is a colony for them and their people and on their terms. Sec.32 FSA sets ‘the white man’s touch’ test of extinguishment.

    It’s the private titles that need to be tested – not Maori ones. Maori have already stated they want public access. It’s the private title holders the Crown are trying to protect who don’t want public access. They want the right to trespass people and to make reclamations and development rights and so on. That’s the private/public split they created with the FSA (with Maori interests a subset of the public). All relying on titles issued by the Crown – some over blocks of dubious provenance, facts that would come out in the investigations.

    The Crown institutionally sees it as an anti-Pakeha precedent to do something that would equalise the status of Maori and Pakeha claims to F&S lest it have implications for dry land.

  9. Tim – Thanks for that s32 reference. It is the clear point of difference between the FSA and the current proposal. I disagree that National are trying to protect private title holders. They recognise the importance of property rights but also recognise that free access to our foreshore is a fundamental right. I understand why I would be denied access to the foreshore of a port. I cannot accept being denied the right to walk around or land on any foreshore + Queens Chain no matter whomever the owner may be.

    That is the compromise that needs to be attained.

  10. There is the related matter of access way – and where this concerns farmers and whether the Queens Chain includes lakes and rivers. Labour was going to move in this area and then changed their mind, possibly for reasons (but then perhaps not) that have led National to place constraints on Maori customary title (and public access) that do not apply to private land owners.

  11. SPC – That conflates matters to me. If there is no right of way now, whether legally designated or arising from common use then why should a contiguous private property owner, whether Maori or other, be forced to grant access?

    If a lake is completely enclosed by private land that is tough. A river will have the queens chain and access will be possible, albeit difficult. Likewise seashore.

  12. Labour was going to move in this area…

    Yep, but were stymied by the same press-supported insanity that skittled the “fart tax” and Closing the Gaps, and that pressured them into F&S.

    Now they need to remember that they’re in opposition; where sound ideas are not traditionally susceptible to well-heeled hysteria campaigns: and that the public is heartily sick of (and confused by) F&S and interminable “ownership” squabbles.

    That the “Queen’s chain” (a legal non-entity and mental shorthand for an utterly confused and disjointed mish-mash of marginal strips, esplanade reserves etc) is still so whistfully admired and desired by a huge and growing sector of the public should spur them to action while the issue is topical. “Ownership” has never been the issue for the public – just their perceived a priori right of guaranteed access. “Private Beach” signs elicit an automatic gut-level antipathy. As Phil notes, “ access to our foreshore is a fundamental right.”

    A continuous “Queen’s Chain” has already been implicitly accepted – if not proposed – by Maori: as you note Tim, it’s high time parliament insisted that private landowners meet the same standard. One shore for all. Or rather, all shore for all. C’mon Labour, accept that “F&S 2” is positive and start to lead again: you used to be the party of ideas and progression, remember?

  13. Phil ,

    In the matter of the seashore, is there any guarantee that existing access will be maintained.

    Someone proposing development use of the F and S could simply close of land route access to the area.

    In some areas access is on private/iwi land.

    This is one connection to where existing access to the wider Queens Chain is across private land and sometimes this ends/has been ended.

  14. This is where the rules of the UK and even the Battery point Waiheke in Auckalnd are entirely relevant

    Once a public way is established it is not possible for private owners unilaterally to dismiss the property right (right of way access) that the public has. The owner has to lump it. There will no duobt be a combination of circumstances where some long term private access is upheld and some short term infrequent public access are removed.

    The real precedent is the “Common” where individuals do not own the grazing land but have a commonly agreed right to access and grazing for stock. Ownership is the biggest stick, but it is only one among a bundle of sticks that form the ownership rights of property.

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