Tribal Maori have been emboldened this year as evidenced by Ngati Awa elders who, in the wake of the White Island tragedy, issued a rahui banning the public from accessing the Bay of Plenty coastline. The ban included the erection of fencing and padlocks, blocking access to Whakatane wharf. This allows a startling glimpse into our future under the Marine and Coastal Area Act: while boaties and fishers might feel free to ignore a ban issued by an Anglican pastor or Catholic priest, it is difficult to ignore a spiritual prohibition when your boat is barricaded by fencing and padlocks with the sanction of local police.
As Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha stated on TV1's Te Karere programme: “my role has been to ensure that [Ngati Awa tikanga] is injected into the operation and that Ngati Awa protocol will be followed”. This makes it clear that the Police consider it their role to enforce Maori tikanga (protocols), and could very likely police rahui banning public beach access in future.
We urgently need our MPs to restore our coastline to public ownership, before the rights of this tiny group of deluded radicals are permanently entrenched in law by the Minister (Andrew Little) and the courts.
Our petition, which will be presented to Parliament, has been signed by just 9,000 people – a tiny fraction of the New Zealanders who we believe would support the restoration of public ownership if they understood the ramifications of the new law.
But it will be much harder for politicians to ignore us if we have the numbers. You can help by emailing five friends asking them to sign our petition at hobsonspledge.nz/beaches. And, like an old fashioned chain letter, if you asked your friends to email five of their friends asking them to email five of their friends then we have the potential to gain significant support for the restoration of public ownership.
Many thanks for your support - it is much appreciated
Wishing you a very happy Christmas and New Year
Don Brash and Casey Costello
22 December 2019