Elsha (sixth_light) wrote in nz_in_the_world,

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Foreshore and Seabed

So, finally, the loathed and dreaded Foreshore and Seabed bill has been passed. Cue much weeping, wailing, axes in the PM's electorate office window, threats, Winston Peters being smug...just another week in politics, really.

But what do you all think about this? Good, bad, terrible, don't care as long as you can still sunbathe this Christmas?

I had to debate both for and against the bill (in its original version, admittedly) for the national school debating comp in August. Having read it, studied it, screamed about it, lied about it, praised it to the skies and slandered it as the most horrific piece of legislation ever to darken this nation's doorstep, I got quite sick of it.

Three months later, I still feel that it's all a storm in a teacup. On the one hand - Maori being denied their day in court was out of line. On the other - the chances of anyone, under the most generous circumstances, proving customary title are fairly slim. This means continuous use, back 'till 1840, and does NOT include fisheries or mineral rights (even this government wouldn't tamper with the current systems for those!) Pretty difficult to prove, but unavoidable, because that's the definition of customary rights. So it seems to me that this bill is more about form than substance - more about people's perceptions of what they will or will not have and what they could or could not have had. And I seriously doubt, this summer, that I will be unable to lie on the beach.

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I'm inclined to like the look of it, frankly I prefer it to stay in government hands, and what I've seen of it does make it look like, in practice, things will stay they way they are more or less.

And frankly, the government are in the situation where the majority of the population (and the voting population, which is the bit they care about) were going to be just as unhappy with the with most of the other options as the Maori are with the current one.

Brett, who does have enough maori blood in him to count as one legally, though you wouldn't know it to look at him.
I don't think it will make a huge difference but I find the government passing a law to claim land disturbing.

Didn't a court say that some tribe was able to go through the system to claim land? So the government just stole it?

What stops them from claiming that my land is theirs too?

So I sympathise with angry Maori for that reason. But, again, I don't think m,uch will actually change.
The Maori Land Court ruled that the Maori Land Court had the juristiction to decide claims. The government got antsy because they don't like courts deciding that sort of thing for themselves. So they legislated to avoid a mess and look what happened... In fact, the MLC also said that it was extremely unlikely any claims would be proven valid. But the gvt got scared and interfered with the judicial process.

But they certainly didn't take any land, unless you want to go with the idea that any land which does not have a legal owner automatically belongs to Maori because of the ToW. Which is a fair view, but another can of worms altogether, because up until then it had been legally assumed (just not written down) that all land without title (e.g. seabed and foreshore) belonged to the crown. What the MLC did with that ruling was overturn, in effect, another ruling from the 70s, which had been assumed for the last twenty years to have settled the matter. A lot of this bleeds into the sniping war between Michael Cullen and Sian Elias over the position of the judiciary.
Actually, it was the Court of Appeal who granted MLC jurisdiction, but I'm sure you already knew that.
It was the MLC originally, then it got bounced around from court to court. The CoA was the last in a long line of decisions. It usually is.
But in reality, the ruling had no effect until the CA was on the case. After all, Ninety Mile Beach was still in effect, being a prior CA ruling.
True. I just meant that the MLC was the actual genesis of the whole thing back in the dark mists of '97.
The whole business about being able to sunbathe on the beach is misleading, political clap-trap. The foreshore and seabed are actually the wet/submerged parts of the land - if you were planning to sunbathe there this summer, you better take an oxygen tank or two. The sandy beach itself is Crown land, and not affected by the Court of Appeal decision or the Act.

On the one hand, Maori should have got their day in court. Access to justice is a value promoted by everyone, from the Greens to the Business Roundtable. The Maori tradition of manaakitanga would prevent anyone from blocking access to your favourite neck of the woods anyway - compare the many private property owners who already do this to many of our beaches.

On the other hand, it was wrong of Maori to proclaim ownership of the foreshore during their hikoi. The CA only granted them a limited right to prove their claim (as already noted). The beaches should belong to everyone, yada yada.

I would go with Maori on this one, but only just. I think both sides need to calm down, and should have taken the option of a 'longer conversation', as the Waitangi Tribunal suggested. Unfortunately, with summer, a pending election and the Maori Party looming, political expediency won out on the day.

Therefore the current Act was really the only sensible option that a Labour government could have taken. I would have preferred for the land in question to be in the 'public domain' rather than the Crown, and for it to be entrenched, rather than amenable through a simple majority (both United Future proposals, strangely). But hey, politics is about numbers.