Rolling, rolling, rolling: The Treaty gravy train is still rolling
“As usurpation is the exercise of power, which another hath a right to; so tyranny is
the exercise of power beyond right, which no body can have a right to.”
- John Locke
The Foreshore & Seabed deal is complicated enough already without Hone Harawira muddying its far from pellucid waters. But bear in mind that when Hone complains the government has “pandered to rednecks” and he calls the agreement “bullshit” [audio] he’s just playing politics with you. He just wants mainstream New Zealanders* to think his tribalists have been shafted so they won’t look too deeply into what’s just been given away.
Hone is obviously upset that the government has (quite properly) refused to make a gift to iwi of that which they were previously required to go to court to prove. From Lew at KiwiPolitico (who, it seems, agrees with Hone):
“‘[The government, says Hone] 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 [clarifies Lew]; the one thing is Māori title.”
I disagree. I’d say the government got one thing right and several things wrong. But I’d go further. In opening the door for iwi to make a form of common law claim to property in specific tracts of foreshore or seabed, on that at least the government has done well. This would be using power to recognise right. So too would have been recognising the right to alienate (sell) that to which title had been proved. On that, the government has done poorly. That too would have been using power to protect right.
What Hone wants “mainstream” New Zealand to overlook however is what has been given beyond right.
The devil seems to lie in what changed between yesterday and the government’s offer last month to allow this deal to happen. There appear to be two new things handed over:
- A unjustified declaration in law that Maori have mana over the foreshore and seabed.
The universal recognition or mana tukuiho--“recognition for all iwi with a coastal connection, whether or not they meet the test for customary title”—will “cite iwi and hapu with specific coastal areas,” says the Herald, spelling out out “to councils and other statutory organisations what rights the recognised iwi and hapu have on conservation issues in their area.”
In other words, the door has been opened now to grant Maori leaders a “partnership” in law that the Treaty itself never promised, but which the myth-makers have been agitating for for at least two decades.
A form of partnership that will make a gift to iwi of unspecified political power over aquaculture operations, minerals claims, harbours, ports, airports and more.
A gift that has just opened the door to a world of trouble.
- “The Government also agreed [says the Herald] that iwi which have already had a Treaty of Waitangi settlement can make a new claim for customary title in the foreshore and seabed.”
So much for all those “full and final” settlements too, eh?
And so much for one law for all.
So the scorecard to me on yesterday’s agreement looks like one step forward, and three back. And in every direction, these are big steps.
The gravy train is still rolling.
* * * *
* Yes, Virginia, it’s now PC to use the “mainstream” word. You now have Aunty Tariana’s permission.
This is just cynical politics: Harawira’s censure is beneficial to National – it’s voters hate him and see his anger as an indication that their party has done the right thing. And it lets the Maori Party pretend it has at least one member who speaks for those who don’t like their coalition choices which is obviously not the case.”