About the Author

Avatar photo

Dr Hugh Barr

Why are New Zealanders allowing race-based privatisation of our foreshore and seabed?

Print Friendly and PDF
Posted on

The Ngati Porou Bill is now before the Maori Affairs Select Committee. It was initially drafted by the former National Party Attorney General, Christopher Finlayson  before National lost the 2017 Election. It has been carried forward by the Labour-led Coalition Government, although why is unclear, as you will find out by reading on.

One needs to understand that the race-based Marine and Coastal Area (MACA) Act allows Maori tribal groups to claim the foreshore (wet and dry) and the seabed (always wet). Only groups with a Maori ancestor can make claims. So the Act is racist, as it eliminates all New Zealanders who do not have a Maori ancestor.

The 2011 MACA Act was sensibly limited to only 6 years for tribal groups to make claims, with a close-off date of 3 April 2017. Initially some 30 or so claims were registered, but almost on the last day for submissions, a tsunami of almost 600 claims were made by tribal groups, covering the coast two or three times over.

To gain rights under the Act, a tribal group must prove “exclusive occupation and use from 1840 to the present day” (S 59 of the Act), but obviously a tribal group can’t have “exclusive occupation and use” if its area is also claimed by another tribal group. This showed their claims had not been researched and would almost certainly fail.

However Ngati Porou, the East Coast iwi,  had not lodged a claim under the MACA Act by the close-off date, and so it missed out. The Ngati Porou Hapu (No 2) Bill has a main purpose of giving Ngati Porou another 2 years in which to register a claim. It over-rides the 3 April 2017 deadline of the MACA Act, for them alone.

The Maori supremacist (or rather Ngati Porou supremacist) approach of National’s Chris Finlayson’s and Labour’s Andrew Little’s joint Bill attracted 193 public submissions – a very large number for a Bill of this nature. Little is now the Government Minister in charge of the Bill.

See HERE to view submissions, the Bill and other information,

Many submissions are from non-Maori submitters who see this Bill as racist, which it clearly is, and  anti-democratic.

My Outdoor Recreation Council, CORANZ made a submission too, opposing the Ngati Porou Bill. CORANZ has been involved in fighting the MACA Act since 2011, and has registered as an interested party in many of the claims. We are concerned at the Act’s ability to lock out the public, through Wahi Tapu areas. If they can prove Customary Marine Title (CMT), then they gain the right to set up Wahi Tapu areas, where the public, including other tribal groups, cannot go, and are fined up to $5,000 for every trespass, to discourage use.

Now that there are almost 600 claims registered it is likely to take decades to resolve them all. It is quite clear too that most claims do not meet the conditions for CMT, especially those round Auckland’s Manukau and Waitemata harbours, Wellington Harbour, Lyttelton Harbour, Bay of Islands, Whangarei and Kaipara Harbours, Porirua harbours, Gisborne Harbour and so on. These areas will not meet the exclusive occupation and use conditions required for CMT, as they have been used by all of the local population since 1840.

Surprisingly, however, all of these harbours have tribal claims over them, showing that many claimants don’t appear to fully understand what “exclusive occupation and use from 1840 to the present day” actually means.

The commercial lobster-fishing industry submission on the Ngati Porou Bill was interesting. It pointed out that the standard Regularly Impact Analysis, that should have been carried out for this Bill, had not been done. No analysis had been carried out on the impact that Wahi Tapu could have on the inshore area where the East Cape to Gisborne lobster fishery is found.

The value of this commercial industry is said to be about $12 million, and its Quota value about $157 million for the East Cape to Gisborne part of the fishery. So it provides a significant income for this relatively poor area. Neither the Office of Treaty Settlements nor the Ministry of Primary Industries has done an analysis on the cost and effect of wahi tapu on the commercial, recreational and customary fishery – which they should have done.

Submissions heard by the Select Committee in Gisborne, on 23 July, were also significantly opposed to the Bill, with some submitters claiming that Ngati Porou was enlarging its rohe beyond its normal position (Pouawa River) to now claim to Kaiti Hill, in Gisborne City. This had disturbed a number of other tribal groups, who saw Ngati Porou as empire building.

Those with long memories will remember that the Foreshore and Seabed issue was the problem child of the New Zealand Court of Appeal and the Waitangi Tribunal.  Both of which are often seen as activists for tribal groups. The Court of Appeal decision did say that it could be difficult to prove rights to the foreshore and seabed, which has proved to be correct. The Waitangi Tribunal is another Maori racist body, since, like the MACA Act, it won’t accept an application unless it is from a group claiming to be Maori.

CORANZ, as an interested party in many of the claims, challenges the setting up of “wahi tapu” because they stop public access to the foreshore and seabed, which makes the recreational use of these areas impossible, and so stops all recreational activity.

This Ngati Porou Bill, has crystallised the fact that no-one wants to be prohibited from using our beaches and foreshore and seabed. This is an area that is most used for outdoor recreation, far more so than our National and Forest Parks and reserves, even though they too are outstanding places. Our coastal areas are used primarily for leisure activities including fishing, swimming, surfing, boating, and walking.

More and more people are saying it is time to go back to public ownership of New  Zealand’s foreshore and seabed, as was the case from 1840 to 2011. Then all New Zealanders and tourists will be able to enjoy our largest recreational asset – our coastal marine area. Let’s get away from the shadow of South African Apartheid laws.