Friday, 5 August 2005

Property theft belies Treaty

Seven families whose land was stolen from them by the government want it back. (Herald story here.)

Their land on the Te Atatatu Peninsula was taken nearly fifty years ago under the Public Works Act for a deep water port that never happened, and when it never happened the land was never returned to its owners but given instead to the council to make a park out of it. The Public Works Act is of course the same act under which Transpower is seeking to force its powerlines and pylons over the land of Waikato farmers; the act of theft is almost identical to the theft of Maori land in Raglan which was taken during the war, never returned, and turned instead into a golf course by the local council.

The Raglan golf course was eventually returned; so too should the land in Te Atatu.

I've long maintained that when injustices such as these have taken place that the Treaty of Waitingi is both unnecessary and unhelpful. If proveable injustice has taken place, then no matter the race of those involved the mainstream courts should deal with it. If there is no injustice there is nothing to be done. Furthermore, the mainstream courts are, as far as our laws go, mostly colour-blind -- this cannot be said of the racist Waitangi Tribunal. If theft has taken place, the colour of the victim is irrelevant, as is the Treaty.

The Treaty itself is now irrelevant, divisive, and a meal ticket for those riding its gravy train. It is also insufficiently comprehensive to be a true founding document of a country, and should be replaced with a constitution that is.

"There won't be huge enthusiasm among elected members of the council to see a strategic open space for the city passed out of council's ownership," Waitakere City Council's legal services manager Denis Sheard said yesterday. Their never is much enthusiasm when a criminal is told to return stolen goods, but the reluctance of the thief to return what's been stolen is irrelevant.

I wish the claimants well in getting back their land. Those who feel likewise and who still favour big government might reflect on an observation of Isabel Paterson's, that a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away. Big government is not the solution, it is the problem.

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Blogger Aaron Bhatnagar said...

Ugh. What a terrible post. Maybe tidy it up in the morning.

4 Aug 2005, 22:50:00  
Blogger PC said...

Whoops! I scratched out the post last night and then obviously pressed 'publish' instead of save. Crikey. Saw your comment and was horrified to see the scratch-pad ramblings published!

Fixed now. :-)

5 Aug 2005, 09:32:00  
Blogger Lewis said...

Heh, it was fascinating nonetheless.

5 Aug 2005, 15:34:00  
Blogger Rick said...

Hey Lewis, where've I seen that nifty logo before?

Some Commonwealth Games or other? Older than I am, but familure none ze less.

5 Aug 2005, 23:14:00  
Blogger t selwyn said...

PC: So many issues here.

Courts are colour-blind! Yeah right. Are all white juries? Are all Maori juries? Are judges? When a Pakeha judge has a case, let's call it Matauri X, and makes a ruling that the trustees who had not gone through the correct consultation with shareholders to legally authorise a contract with a company that purports to give them a right to their land, have made a legal contract with that company and gives his reason as: Maori will be disadvantaged generally if he rules against the company (rather than Maori will be even more disadvantaged by losing their land!), then you see that there is a problem here. To this Pakeha judge having a company gaining Maori land is more important than the owners retaining it. I offer the case by way of a brief illustration only - some of which is on appeal at present.

The Waitangi Tribunal is for things that include injustices carried out under the guise of law as well as Public Works Act breaches. You seem confused about these facts when you state that:
"If proveable injustice has taken place, then no matter the race of those involved the mainstream courts should deal with it. If there is no injustice there is nothing to be done." - Yes: if you think that every Act of Parliament ever passed and every administrative decision or error or injustice that was ever retrospectively, concurrently, or presently put outside of the scope of the "mainstream courts" by Act of Parliament or otherwise makes the situation automatically just. No - if you think that the laws themselves are unjust. The operative word you use is "should" be able to deal with it. In many cases the courts cannot. In many cases the courts in the past caused the injustices in the first place. With the Foreshore and Seabed Act the courts are directly instructed they are not able to "prove" (as you put it) the injustice the law has created.

I don't understand what you don't like about the Treaty. It is part of our constitution and is such a very simple document with very basic ideas about establishing a new polity. What in it do you disagree with? - Property rights? If it isn't relevant, what is?

6 Aug 2005, 01:55:00  
Blogger PC said...

Tim, some good questions there. I'll answer them later on over the weekend if I may (unless anyone else wants to have a go first). :-)

6 Aug 2005, 10:56:00  
Blogger Rick said...

What you've got to understand, Selwin, is that when we talk about Te Treaty these days it isn't just "such a simple document". It used to be a nice little historical treasure, a legal nullity, but something happened recently to change all that. The bit of paper you're talking about is a Trojan Horse for something else, and you've fallen for it Hector!

So what is it? It's a "living document", it's a wildcard, it's a ticket for the gravey train, it's reverse aphartied.

You want some intelligent New Zealand land law, don't go to UBS but to a second-hand bookshop. I've got an old text book from 1971 (I think) on my shelf- published before the darknes fell.

6 Aug 2005, 11:34:00  
Blogger t selwyn said...

Rick: You say: "It used to be a nice little historical treasure, a legal nullity, but something happened recently to change all that." - No. A racist judge in 1877 ruled that it was a "nullity" in one of the dodgiest decisions of all time. It certainly wasn't treated that way up until then. Governments after that date have decided to behave as though that 1877 ruling was correct, despite contrary rulings and no statute to say that the Treaty is a nullity. Only since 1975 has that really changed. Why not view it as a 98 year mistake in a 165 year history? In the same way that slavery and segregation were viewed to be contrary to the US constitution in time.

"when we talk about Te Treaty these days it isn't just "such a simple document"... it's a wildcard, it's a ticket for the gravey train, it's reverse aphartied." - So, you mean someone else's interpretation of it is incorrect and/or it is irrelevant to the policies that you don't like (but connected to the Treaty in some way)? Well then, it seems, like me, you don't see any problem with the Treaty per se. Good.

But what is it exactly that you don't like about it?:-
"It's a "living document"" - so what? I hope our damn constitution, such as it is, is bloody living.
"it's a wildcard" - you mean it leads to uncertainty? If so, what was the certainty that you preferred beforehand?
"it's a ticket for the gravey train" - what document about public power isn't? It is not special in that respect.
"it's reverse aphartied." - You mean it is used as a tool to do things you consider constitutes "reverse apartheid"? I will agree with you that it has been used in arguments that way. Local body Maori-only seats, I would classify as that, even though it arguably makes it worse for Maori. There are many tokenistic type things that may fall into this category. But I would be interested in seeing a list of things you would put here.

6 Aug 2005, 23:14:00  
Blogger Rick said...

Only got one thing to say to all that.

There you go Cresswell, now that I've softened him up for you he's all yours.

7 Aug 2005, 00:15:00  

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