The Mahia Peninsula Customary Marine Title (CMT) Court Case

There are now some 27 tribal applications for Customary Marine Title (CMT) under Treaty Minister Christopher Finlayson’s controversial Marine and Coastal Area Act, around the New Zealand coast. Any of these can be heard through the High Court, provided that they are registered with the Court, and that each is advertised once, yes ONLY ONCE, in a daily paper circulating in the area of the Claim.

A major application for ownership rights to the foreshore and seabed around the Mahia Peninsula (from Whareongaonga Point in the north, to the Nuhaka River mouth in the west) and including Portland Island, has recently been registered with the High Court by the Rongomaiwahine tribe.

mahia peninsula

This application covers some 100 km of coast and extends out to 12 nautical miles (22.6 km) from shore, covers at least 2200 square Km of foreshore and seabed – see the map above. Any areas of foreshore and seabed granted CMT become owned by the tribal group, who have the right to declare wahi tapu, areas where the public is prohibited from going.

Fines of up to $5,000 can be imposed if a member of the public enters a wahi tapu area. These areas are likely to be good fishing sites, currently used by the public, so where they occur, the public will be being locked out of some of their current good fishing spots.. As well the tribe gets veto rights on any commercial activity proposed for their Title area, eg wharves, launching ramps, anchorages, marinas, aquaculture, mining, etc, and the right to develop their own management plans for the area, without necessarily any public influence on them.

The Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand Inc (CORANZ for short), an advocate for public access and recreational use of the foreshore and seabed, has become the only recreational advocate registered as an “interested person” in this case, representing the interests of the recreational public. CORANZ is an advocacy association, and is not well-heeled, so needs donations from the public to meet our legal bills.

I urge you to support us financially, so we can make a good job of this very important case. Please send donations to:

The Secretary
Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand, Inc.

PO Box 1876
Wellington.

We will keep all donors informed on progress with this important case, and provide a receipt.

Dr Hugh Barr, Secretary, CORANZ. 04 934 2244 hugh@infosmart.co.nz

Pauanui Opposes Reserve Giveaway

Guest post by Mike Butler

pauanui pic

Residents of the small Coromandel town of Pauanui are upset that the beachfront strip of land that encircles their town has been offered as part of a settlement to local treaty claimants, Ngati Hei. Pauanui, located just over 40km south of Whitianga, is a popular destination for Auckland holidaymakers in the summer, when the town’s population swells from 740 to 15,000.

The Pauanui Ratepayer and Residents Association said that government treaty negotiator Mike Dreaver, with co-operation from the Thames Coromandel District Council, had offered Ngati Hei sites including the entire Pauanui beachfront reserve and Estuary reserve, effectively “ring fencing” Pauanui from the water.

Pauanui properties there with views of the ocean regularly sell for over $1-million. The reserve would have little commercial value to Ngati Hei unless reserve status is revoked, which may be done by the government of the day.

Should reserves status be revoked, owners of million dollar beach front Pauanui properties face the prospect of having large houses built between them and the sea, blocking ocean views and eroding their property values.

“The entire process was carried out without any public consultation of stakeholders”, a statement from the Pauanui Ratepayer association said. “Other than public knowledge that in general terms treaty settlement negotiations were being carried out, the only specific document we located was a list of several hundred sites identified as suitable for settlement purposes published in 2011”.(1)

Ngati Hei claims to have lived in the area for 1000 years and keep alive the memory of massacres of their forebears in the early 1800s by Nga Puhi. The Ngati Hei Trust Board represents an estimated 350 members.(2)

Two pages on the tribe’s website devoted to “land struggles” don’t say that their forebears sold the land, preferring to characterise their land history as of “loss and confiscation for hundreds of years. However, Henry Hansen Turton’s record shows more than 60 land sales deeds for Coromandel.(3)

The Agreement in Principal between Ngati Hei, as part of the Hauraki Collective, and the Crown implies land sales by forebears as the main issue in complaints about the Native Land Court, individualisation of title, pre-1840 purchases and the pre-emption waiver that allowed direct negotiations between Maori vendors and non-Maori buyers.

The Pauanui ratepayer association wrote to Prime Minister John Key expressing concern that these reserves will pass from crown to private ownership, pointing out that Pauanui has no great cultural or historical significance, and stressing that giving away the reserves would have a huge impact on a large number of affected third parties.

A group including representatives from the Pauanui ratepayer association met Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson, Coromandel MP Scott Simpson and Thames-Coromandel Mayor Glenn Leach on Friday, January 3. Pauanui representatives put forward 15 questions while arguing that reserves must remain in Crown ownership. The Government was expected to report back within 15 days.

At the meeting and in a subsequent press release, Finlayson said that “this settlement has nothing to do with the foreshore and seabed.” However, Clause 11e of the agreement in principle notes that the Hauraki Collective also seeks that the historical account includes a statement saying “the Crown unilaterally suspended the rule of law when inconvenient foreshore and seabed decisions were made by the judiciary”.

The ratepayers group stressed that Pauanui property owners have a reasonable expectation that the reserves around their town (shown as Crown reserves in original advertising material) would remain in Crown hands and the use and enjoyment of these would remain unchanged.

“This is an issue that affects all property owners, the Pauanui group said, “with ramifications for all communities with Crown owned property”.

They are considering a national advertising and awareness campaign, lobbying of MPs, withholding rates, and possibly a class action. Waitara, where 769 leasehold sections are under offer to Te Ati Awa, is another area where a treaty settlement is affecting ratepayers.(4)

Dreaver, who was happy to negotiate away beach front reserves in a treaty settlement, last year was named the top-earning treaty negotiator, earning $1.5-million in fees since 2008.(5)

Sources
1. “Ngati Hei and the Crown – Agreement in Principle Equivalent – July 2011”. http://nz01.terabyte.co.nz/ots/DocumentLibrary/NgatiHeiAIPE.pdf
2. Ngati Hei home page, www.ngatihei.iwi.nz
3. Maori Deeds of Land Sales in the North Island of New Zealand, Vol 1. http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Tur01Nort.html
4.Land wars to lease wars, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9542321/Land-wars-to-lease-wars
5. Treaty cases earn top dollar for ‘top team’, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8314679/Treaty-cases-earn-top-dollar-for-top-team

The Tribal Elite is Lining up to Grab our Beaches

by John McLean

An update on claims for customary title (ownership rights) of the foreshore and seabed under the Marine and Coastal Area Act

There are currently three major claims being made on the East Coast of the North Island and one on the Coromandel peninsula, which latter covers two separate stretches of the coast.

1.
The biggest claim is that by Ngati Porou – a claim for about 200 km of the coast north of Gisborne. Specifically this stretches from the Pouawa Stream, just north of Gisborne, all the way up to East Cape and around it for some distance to Potikirua, west of Lottin Point. This tribe is also claiming ownership of the seabed out to 3 nautical miles.

The Gisborne District Council has put in a submission opposing this grabbing of our precious coast by this small, private tribal grouping. They could hardly have done otherwise since the function of a local council is to represent the interests of its ratepayers, and the privatisation of the hitherto publicly owned beaches as a result of National’s thieving and racist Marine and Coastal Area Act is certainly not in the interests of the non-iwi citizens of Gisborne or indeed of the wider New Zealand public.

67 submissions have been made in respect of this claim and, in a typical display of of his pro-iwi bias and his unscrupulous methods, Finlayson has used his office to dilute these submissions into a very brief form and has given them to his hand-picked “independent assessor”, retired High Court judge, Judith Potter, to make a non-binding “assessment”.

In view of Finlayson’s deceitful tactics in creating the Marine and Coastal Area Act, one should not be too surprised if Potter gives Ngati Porou what they want, regardless of the fact that they do not qualify for customary marine title since they are unable to show “exclusive” occupation of the coast since 1840 “without substantial interruption”. “Exclusive” means that they alone have used it without “substantial interruption”.

Until National passed the Marine and Coastal Area Act in 2011 the beaches,coast and seabed were publicly owned and from the earliest days of settlement colonists rode their horses and trekked over all parts of the New Zealand coast, as walking or horse riding along the sandy beaches was much easier than going inland through the trackless forests. Thus any claim that a tribe might have enjoyed exclusive use of parts of the coast line without substantial interruption is plain nonsense. But Finlayson is not one to let the facts get in the way of his ever more outrageous giveaways of public resources to his favoured tribes.

How can Potter come up with an assessment based on the facts when the submissions, outlining the facts, have been so diluted by “summarisation” on the part of Finlayson’s Office of Treaty Settlements? The poor woman will be working form a skewed brief. One of those who made a submission on this claim was the Council of Recreational Associations of New Zealand (CORANZ), which represents those who use the outdoors for their various activities. Their submission consisted of 20 pages with maps. However, despite the large number of organisations and members that CORANZ represents, Finlayson’s department reduced this 20 page submission to three sentences!!!!

At present regional and unitary local councils have responsibility for the ocean and seabed out to 12 nautical miles and, in the event of Ngati Porou succeeding in any part of their claim, they will be in a position – over time –  to stop people fishing, surfing, etc. and stop the construction of buoys, wharves, etc. They will also be able to declare whole areas (probably the best fishing grounds and surf breaks)  ”wahi tapu” (forbidden territory), meaning that any member of the public who steps on such an area of our formerly publicly owned beaches can be fined up to $5,000, with tribal wardens being empowered to patrol such areas  - yet another result of the Marine and Coastal Area Act.

2.
The Ngati Pahuwera tribe is claiming customary title over about 30 km of coastline either side of the mouth of the Mohaka River, between Wairoa and Napier. This is a traditional area for Napier folk to fish, walk their dogs, swim, surf, etc.

3.
The claim by the Rongomaiwahine tribe to a large area of coast around the Mahia peninsula. It extends from the mouth of the Nuhaka River, then around the whole of the Mahia peninsula and up as far as Whareongaonga point, just south of Young Nick’s Head.

This claim is being opposed by both the Gisborne District Council and the Hawkes Bay Regional Council as well as by CORANZ and by its secretary, Dr. Hugh Barr, in his private capacity. Dr. Barr probably knows more about the foreshore and seabed issue than anyone else, having written the definitive book on the subject, “The Gathering Storm over the Foreshore and Seabed” and having written the foreshore and seabed section of the best selling book, “Twisting the Treaty”.

Because of the secretive nature of Finlayson’s dealings with his favoured tribes there is no other way for the public to make their objections known on this serious and revolutionary step of privatising the beaches on a racist basis. And yet the right of CORANZ and Dr. Hugh Barr to raise their objections in the court case is currently being challenged in court by the Rongomaiwahine applicant AS WELL AS BY Finlayson in his capacity as Attorney-General, thus suggesting that these two parties – the applicant and Finlayson – are colluding together to rob the public of some of our rights to use the coast.

This is a further conflict of interest on the part of Finlayson – a “man” who took megabucks from the Ngai Tahu tribe and then pushed the thieving and racist Marine and Coastal Area Act through Parliament with the result that Ngai Tahu has the potential right to claim more of the coast than any other tribe.

Finlayson is so seriously compromised that he is quite unfit to be both Minister of Treaty Settlements and Attorney-General. In the former role he robs the public (e.g. Marine and Coastal Area Act) in order to buy the support of the race based Maori Party in Parliament while as Attorney-General he uses the law to support the robbery instead of applying it in the proper manner, viz. to uphold the rights of the New Zealand people. This is an abuse of office unrivalled in New Zealand history and shows how utterly unfit he is to hold public office.

The Mahia claim is more urgent than the others as it is already in the High Court in Wellington and is proceeding. Do we really want the beautiful Mahia peninsula to become the Mafia peninsula, with thuggish wardens throwing their weight around on fishermen, surfers and other beach users?

Thus, with these three claims, the people of the Hawke’s Bay- Gisborne area stand to lose more than half the coast between Napier and East Cape.

4.
There are two separate areas of the Coromandel coast that are part of a single claim by Ngati Porou ki Hauraki. The first of these covers a large triangle of coast, sea and islands. The coast that is under threat by this claim  extends from Waikawau Bay, down to and including Kennedy Bay and out as far as Anareke Point. It stretches out to sea and includes Cuvier Island and the Mercury Islands.

The second piece of the Coromandel coast up for tribal grab under this claim stretches from Otonga Point, south of the coastal settlement of Whiritoa, itself south of Whangamata, down the coast through Mataora Bay to the northern edge of Horokawa, and extending 3.5 km out to sea, off Mayor Island.

These four claims are just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come from the coastal tribes as they realise the full extent of the bonanza that the Marine and Coastal Area Act has given them at the expense of the traditional rights of the general public. This notorious, thieving and racist Act, described on page 8 of “Twisting the Treaty” as “the greatest swindle in New Zealand history”, was passed by the National Government for no other reason than to buy the support in Parliament of the small, unrepresentative and race based Maori Party. In doing so the Key government betrayed its own supporters as well as the wider public, including generations unborn.

Under Finlayson’s Marine and Coastal Area Act the people of New Zealand will lose more and more of our precious coast. The only way to reverse this thieving and racist process is to repeal the Marine and Coastal Area Act. But that will never happen so long as the Finlayson-Key government remains in office.