Former Treaty Minister and National MP Chris Finlayson, who confirmed on Friday that he will leave Parliament before the end of year, says his highlight was reforming the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.
However, he will leave 202 pending court claims for protected customary rights or customary marine title, many of which are also among the 385 claims in direct negotiation with the Crown.
Wrangling over these claims will go on for years, probably decades.
Finlayson, who spent 13 years in Parliament and nine in Government, can claim to be the most generous Treaty Negotiations Minister ever, having given during that time total financial redress of $1.7-billion to 59 small groups scattered through New Zealand.
He was legal counsel for the South Island Ngai Tahu group that achieved ongoing top-ups over and above the 1997 settlement of $170 million which so far has earned that entity a further $267 million. That was on top of the so-called full-and final Ngai Tahu Claim Settlement Act 1944.
Finlayson’s announced departure from Parliament coincides with an announcement that Dame Sian Elias will soon retire from her role has Chief Justice. Speculation is that Finlayson has his eyes on that job.
Maori seats don’t over-ride the party vote
The view that "without the Maori seats, Labour wouldn’t be the Government today” is totally incorrect because the number of MPs that Labour has is determined ONLY by Labour’s share of the party vote.
Maori seats became an issue when New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters said during the 2017 election campaign that he would push for a referendum on the future of those seats.
Then Labour Maori electorate MP Rino Tikiratene introduced the Electoral (Entrenchment of Maori Seats) Amendment Bill in May of this year.
Peters supported progressing the bill to select committee stage while saying he would put in a supplementary order paper calling for a two-pronged referendum on whether the seats should be entrenched or whether they should go altogether.
The argument that Maori seats helped Labour into Government in 2017 looks like a bid to drum up support for the seats among Labour voters.
However, it is Labour’s share of the party vote that entitles Labour to the number of MPs they now have in the House, some of whom are electorate MPs and some of whom are list MPs.
If Labour did not have the Maori electorate seats they would simply get more list MPs. They might get some more electorate MPs too if some of those now on the Maori roll changed the balance of some electorates.
The reason Hobson’s Pledge emphasises this point is that if people felt that scrapping the Maori electorates might cost Labour the Government benches, Labour Party supporters may feel pressured to vote to retain the Maori electorates.
Kauri dieback and Maori bush medicine
A look at the Maori dimension of the Kauri Dieback Programme shows a good deal of vacuous nonsense that probably escapes scrutiny because the key words are in Maori and only four percent of the New Zealand population speak Maori.
The programme is a partnership including Biosecurity New Zealand (which is part of the Ministry for Primary Industries), the Department of Conservation, the Auckland Council, the Waikato, Northland, and Bay of Plenty regional councils, Te Roroa (which owns the Waipoua kauri forest in Northland), and Tangata Whenua Roopu which represents other Maori groups with an interest in kauri lands.
The Matauranga Maori subgroup of the project says “The aim of the Rongoa Ngahere Project is to develop rongoa that is not only effective against kauri dieback but restores the mauri of kauri ngahere”.
This looks worthy until one realises that it is a “bush medicine project” to develop a “medicine” that is not only effective against kauri dieback but restores the “life force” of bush kauri.
Since December 2014, the programme has had an annual budget of approximately $836,500. Universities, Crown Research Institutes, and the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment also contribute approximately $1.9 million every year.
The actual science of the project says that the pathogen that causes Kauri dieback disease is not understood, although it is known that it is a species of water mould that was first recorded on Great Barrier Island in the early 1970s but was misdiagnosed at the time.
No evidence has been presented that pre-colonisation Maori had any experience of kauri dieback.
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