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.
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Treaty Minister Andrew Little and the High Court are about to surrender ownership rights over massive areas of New Zealand's coastline to private Maori interests.
Politicians told us lies: They reassured us that hardly any claims would succeed as claimants had to prove that they had used the area "exclusively” since 1840. But the first “Treaty style” agreement awards the tribe 15 km of beach, even though the public had used the beach for fishing, swimming, hiking and the like since 1840. Unless the law is changed, Minister Little and the High Court are likely to grant coastal tribes irrevocable ownership rights over massive areas of beach and seabed.
What you need to know:
Public ownership Until a few years ago New Zealand's entire coastline, the foreshore (the bit that gets wet) and seabed (extending 22km out to sea), was owned by the Crown on behalf of all New Zealanders.
Confiscation In 2011 National passed a new racist law, the Marine and Coastal Area Act, which confiscated public ownership and created Customary Marine Title, which only Maori could claim. The public (including Maori from other tribes) will be relegated to visitors to tribally owned beaches, areas that we once ALL loved and shared.
Claims As a result, private Maori interests lodged nearly 600 claims that will take decades and hundreds of millions of dollars to resolve.
Secret deals The law allows claims to be negotiated by a Minister without scrutiny.
Lies National Party politicians reassured us that hardly any claims would succeed as claimants had to prove that they had used the area "exclusively" since 1840. But the first Agreement awards a tribe title to 15km of beach, even though the public had used the beach for fishing, swimming, hiking and the like since 1840.
Why does it matter?
Coastal owning tribal aristocracy The new law will create and enrich a coastal-owning tribal aristocracy, which may gain ownership of valuable seabed minerals, charge for boat ramps, block competitors wanting to set up businesses such as mussel farms, and charge fees for cultural "consultancy", which nobody wants or needs.
We think that our valuable seabed minerals (worth billions) should be owned by all New Zealanders for the benefit of all New Zealanders.
Private beaches “Sacred areas” will become off-limits to non-tribal members, enforceable by fines, and tribes will be able to ban coastal activities according to unwritten tribal law.
Tribal bully boys Some tribal members have already illegally blocked public access to "their" beaches.
Inter-tribal tension The hundreds of overlapping claims will create tension between Maori, which will linger for generations.
Resentment If the law isn't changed, we face a future filled with resentment, with arguments in Court and fights on beaches.
How are claims being resolved?
Many of the hundreds of claims will lead to private Treaty style "deals" negotiated between the Minister and his officials and tribal leaders. The public is excluded and Parliament usually signs such deals off. The rest of the cases will be heard in the High Court.
Corruption Treaty style negotiations, conducted behind closed doors, open the way to political corruption. The first Agreement, negotiated by former Minister Chris Finlayson (and which Parliament hasn't yet signed off), grants the tribe rights to manage riverbed hangi stones up to 22km offshore. While this sounds absurd, it was simply a way around the rules laid out in the Act to allow tribal leaders to control a massive area of seabed.
Issues with the High Court Instead of throwing overlapping claims out (the claimants can't all have used the beach "exclusively"), it appears that the High Court will allow claimants to divvy up the coastline between them.
No public body is defending public rights Only a handful of men and women, largely lacking in legal skills and funding, have been left to defend public ownership of our foreshore and seabed in perpetuity. Even worse, some claims may be successful simply because no one or group has the millions of dollars or time needed to defend public ownership against the hundreds of claims and appeals before the courts.
Taxpayer funding To add insult to injury, taxpayers have been asked to fund tribal claims up to $412,000 per claim. This has already cost us tens of millions of dollars and will likely cost hundreds of millions.
How many New Zealanders support the radical Maori agenda?
Politicians may fear a return of the "hikoi from hell". But in the 2014 election, just 31,850 or 1.3% of New Zealander voters supported the Maori Party’s radical agenda. And these 31,850 votes represented just 7% of voters of Maori descent. The other 93% of Maori just want to get on with their lives as ordinary Kiwis.
Public ownership needs to be restored NOW before public rights are irrevocably transferred to private Maori interests.
The only way out of this mess is to change the law to:
- restore full rights of public ownership over the foreshore and seabed
- affirm the right of tribes to continue customary activities
- repeal Customary Marine Title
- end secret deals with the Minister by moving all claims to the High Court
- allow tribes to enjoy the same rights (no more, no less) as those enjoyed by other private groups seeking to protect the environment
- provide compensation to anyone who would be out of pocket as a result of these changes
Petition to the New Zealand Parliament:
We the below signed urge Parliament to amend the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 as mentioned above so as to restore full legal and beneficial ownership of the public foreshore and seabed to the people of New Zealand.
Thank you for your support on this important issue
Don Brash & Casey Costello
You do not have to be a New Zealand citizen to petition the New Zealand Parliament.
What happens to the claims?
All claims will be transferred to the High Court where they can proceed under the amended rules.
What about the first signed Agreement?
Parliament should refuse to ratify the corrupt Ngati Pahauwera Agreement. Pahauwera itself was unhappy with the Agreement and is continuing to pursue two cases for the balance of its unmet claims through the High Court. Please refer Ngati Pahauwera Agreement
What about the Mutton Bird Islands Case?
The tribe’s customary practice of landing waka will be unaffected by the removal of Customary Marine Title.
While the public are in general too busy to notice yet another “Agreement” between the Crown and tribal groups, Ngati Porou’s foreshore and seabed Agreement, which confers inalienable legal rights on Porou, sets a dangerous precedent for New Zealand’s future: Parliament has a choice – it can remain a member of the small group of prosperous liberal democracies that follow the Rule of Law (as opposed to rule by law) or it can enact the Ngati Porou Bill[i], setting a precedent for future “grace and favour” deals over the foreshore and seabed in which the Minister exercises powers of gift outside our constitutional framework, established over centuries, to define and curb Ministerial powers.Read more
Undue Influence: New Zealand’s Tribal Corruption Charter
Corruption takes different forms in different nations. In New Zealand the Race Based Laws which grant legal privilege to Maori individuals and tribal entities have resulted in a form of corruption, the undue influence of Maori tribal entities upon New Zealand’s governance, economy and society.
Since 1975, this undue influence has resulted in an expanding cycle of “legalised” extortion, a "virtual Tribal Corruption Charter" through which wealthy, litigious tribal trusts can employ their special legal status as a mechanism to gain additional legal rights and powers, financial gain to individuals (mainly tribal trustees and employees) and tribal entities.
The ability of Maori individuals and groups to lodge claims with the Waitangi Tribunal that they have been prejudiced, in conjunction with an increasingly radicalised Maori electorate, also exerts undue influence on governments seeking policy reform, as governments quietly pay sweeteners to tribal groups to avoid protracted litigation and maintain internal support from Maori electorate MPs.
As many of the Race Based Laws are indirect in influence (eg the right to be consulted on an environmental application rather than the power to refuse consent), tribal entities often resort to implied threats of litigation and delay. As voiced by one tribal trust:
“It says the first rule on consent application is to “object”. The second rule on consent application is “object”. If in doubt go back to rule one (objection gives time, time is of no importance to us, only the application) it says. The first rule of objection is to claim lack of consultation, the document states. The second is the Treaty of Waitangi, the RMA is the third, and the fourth “anything anyone can think of”. Results would not be measured in dollars, “but the sum of the good that can be gained for the hapu”.(1)
The result of this undue influence of tribal entities is massive costs, both direct and indirect, imposed upon government ministries and agencies, local government, business and individuals. (2),(3)
Direct costs to business and individuals include costs for "soft" payments to tribal entities, unwanted and unnecessary cultural consultancy and advisory services, regulatory complexity, legal fees and delay. The wider economy must also be damaged as individuals and businesses simply walk away from both scientific endeavour and business opportunities.
Indirect costs for the operation of parallel institutions, separate Maori seats, Maori wards, the Waitangi Tribunal, the Maori Courts and co-governance etc flow to individuals and business through increased taxes, rates and charges. In some instances, undue influence fosters criminal corruption which may or may not be reported to authorities.
The following entries, which document instances of only a tiny fraction of the undue influence exerted by tribal entities over the last forty years, illustrate how tribal rights are damaging not only our economy but the nation's social fabric through the normalisation of New Zealand's peculiar form of constitutional corruption.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have verifiable examples of undue influence that you would like to be included on this page.
Northland Regional Council has granted resource consent to Refining New Zealand to dredge the entrance to Whangarei Harbour.
To get a bore you have to get iwi consent, and they want a koha, which is not a gift, it's a bribe" one woman stated.
One Pure, owned by Hong Kong based corporation Hon Lung International, with the capital and expertise to build a massive water bottling facility, felt the need to approach Hawke’s Bay tribal entity Ngati Paarau[i] for “support and partnership [ii]” in their endeavour. Why?
"Through regular engagement and funding provided by Genesis Energy, the parties seek to deliver the broad objectives of developing a long term relationship, assisting Marae development, fostering cultural understanding, supporting the kaitiaki role of the Marae and enhancing the environment and supporting education and training initiatives".
"We were then told that under the new Draft Unitary Plan, not yet enacted, our building being within 50 metres of a designated Maori heritage site, we needed RMA approval (for a new shop window, for God’s sake), this instantly forthcoming at a cost of $4500 plus the approval of 13 iwi".
Waitaha (te Runanga O Waitaha Me Mata Waka Inc) appeal against the granting of RMA consents by Waitaki District and Otago Regional Councils, claiming the Councils had failed in their resource consents process to apply the Treaty of waitangi, Resource Management Act, New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and Local Government Act.
"This decision is also concerning in that it invites Maori and Genesis to have 'a meeting of the minds' over the next 10 years to resolve the future use of the water. This is an invitation for backhanders, given the huge value of electricity and the leverage that Whanganui iwi will have over Genesis.
Members of iwi Ngati Kura clamp four cars at Matauri Bay and clamp four cars belonging to students on the beach for a surfing lesson.
(1) Ngati Puu: Christchurch Press, 12th March 2003; quoted on Dr Nick Smith: Hansard Parliamentary Debates: resource-management-amendment-bill-no-2-—-first-reading; http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/debates/debates/47HansD_20030320_00001026/resource-management-amendment-bill-no-2-%E2%80%94-first-reading
(2) Round, D --- "Here Be Dragons?"  OtaLawRw 3; (2005) 11 Otago Law Review 31
(3) Ministerial Panel on Business Compliance costs, which identified that the RMA was a significant cost to business due to:
• Inconsistency in interpretation
• Lack of capacity in local government
• Time delays
• Difficulties in meeting obligations to Maori
In 2011 the National - Maori Party coalition passed the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act (the “MACA”), a radical Act allowing Maori groups to claim special rights over the foreshore and seabed. As a result over six hundred claims have been lodged with the Crown, Courts, and Waitangi Tribunal. While these claims may take decades to resolve, the public’s rights over the coastline remain in a state of uncertainty: the question is, will the new law affect coastal walking tracks and how?Read more
The first Agreement negotiated under the Marine and Coastal Area (Tukutai Moana) Act 2011 not only confirms widely raised fears of the Crown’s failure to represent the public interest but sets a precedent for fresh rounds of Treaty style negotiations.Read more
Brash legal advice: letter from Attorney General Finlayson on MACA misleading and unworthy of Parliament's first law officer
Dear Prime Minister, you will be aware that over the last few weeks more than 100 claims have been made to the high Court by iwi under the Marine and Coastal (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 for customary marine title and protected customary rights.Read more
Touted by National as offering a durable and expeditious solution to Labour’s Foreshore and Seabed Act, Chris Finlayson’s Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 (MACA) has unleashed hundreds of competing claims that will tie the courts up for decades, costing the country tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in claimant funding, policy advice and legal fees.Read more
Members of iwi Ngati Kura clamp four cars at Matauri Bay and clamp four cars belonging to students on the beach for a surfing lesson. The group, armed with a portable EFTPOS machine, demanded $800 from Kamo Intermediate principal John Smith and only unclamped the students’ cars after he had paid up.
 SunLive, Friday 13 Apr, 2012: Beach Extortion”: http://www.sunlive.co.nz/news/24126-beach-extortion.html