Re­view of seabed act over­due – for sure

Central Leader - - News -

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said “23,000 Maori will be danc­ing on the ta­ble” when a re­view of the Fore­shore and Seabed Act was an­nounced last week.

That act led to the for­ma­tion of the party and Tar­i­ana Turia leav­ing Labour.

It also sparked the big­gest Maori protest of the gen­er­a­tion, when more than 20,000 peo­ple con­verged on Welling­ton dur­ing the 2004 hikoi.

I was work­ing for Ra­dio Waatea do­ing in­ter­views as we marched along the streets.

Peo­ple were fu­ri­ous Labour had de­cided Maori, un­like other pri­vate prop­erty own­ers, would not be given the chance to have their day in court.

I re­call a kau­matua with tears in his eyes when he re­alised Maori were be­ing treated like sec­ond-class cit­i­zens by a gov­ern­ment that did not trust them.

Labour all but said it couldn’t let greedy Maori own beaches be­cause they might charge Pakeha to use them.

In­stead of al­low­ing Maori to use the courts, it in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion that breached not only Maori prop­erty rights, but hu­man rights.

Labour was op­posed by the Wai­tangi Tri­bunal, the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, most prom­i­nent churches, the Busi­ness Round­table and the Act Party.

Even United Na­tions rep­re­sen­ta­tives came and said how un­fair the act was.

But noth­ing swayed Labour, which knew what was best for Maori and the na­tion.

In my view this was one of the most ar­ro­gant acts from any gov­ern­ment over the past few decades.

And it was the beginning of the end in terms of Maori sup­port for Labour.

Un­like other com­men­ta­tors who say there’s no need to re­open old wounds, I be­lieve it’s im­per­a­tive this act is not only re­viewed, but thrown out.

All New Zealan­ders should have the right to go to court, but un­der the Fore­shore and Seabed Act, Maori don’t, and that is an in­jus­tice and a blight on this coun­try’s race re­la­tions.

And it is a blight 23,000 Maori Party mem­bers want to see cor­rected.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.