Thursday, February 28, 2013

a con, please pass the salt

The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal from The Māori Council in relation to the partial privatisation of Mighty River power. This gives the government the green light to go ahead with the sale of 49%.

In the Supreme Court hearing late last month and early this month they challenged the High Court's Justice Ronald Young's ruling that the sale of shares was not reviewable by the courts for consistency with the principles of the Treaty.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the council on this point but not on the issue of whether the sale of shares would affect the Government's ability to make subsequent redress for any claims over water and geothermal resources.
So the courts have to consider the consistency with which the principles of Treaty of Waitangi are being applied. But that redress can be achieved over any claims. That positions a eurocentric point of view that does not consider or accept an indigenous view of how these areas are seen. What about mana, what about tikanga, what about tapu and utu. What about tino rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga. Nothing.  It is not, never has been, and never will be about money or as it is so nicely put - subsequent redress. Carwyn Jones puts it well when he says

However, given that the sale of shares will rule out the possibility of at least some forms of redress that are currently possible (though perhaps unlikely), I wonder whether the agreement of Māori should be sought before those options are removed.
This whole area of consultation is also difficult to accept.

Earlier today, Finance Minister Bill English said the Government had done as much as "reasonably possible" in terms of consulting with Maori.
"When it comes to how we have dealt with Maori we have been able to say the Crown dealt with them with transparency and has met all its obligations and are confident we have done all we could."
The Supreme Court agreed with that
The fact that the Crown ultimately rejected the Waitangi Tribunal suggestion as inappropriate is not a basis from which it can be inferred that the consultation was empty or pre-determined. Indeed, this complaint is difficult to separate out from the substantive issue of Treaty compliance in the privatisation. If the Crown was justified in considering that the privatisation did not set up an impediment to recognition of Maori interests in water, it is difficult to infer that the consultation was inadequate simply from the fact that the idea of “shares plus” was rejected and there was no change in the Crown’s proposal as a result. For these reasons, we consider there is nothing in the consultation point that is not resolved with the substantive issue of whether the sale of shares was consistent with the principles of the Treaty.
I posted on The Standard to try and get clarity over that paragraph
A brainier person may be able to interpret that for me as I struggle to follow their logic.
Indeed, however “For these reasons, we consider there is nothing in the consultation point that is not resolved with the substantive issue of whether the sale of shares was consistent with the principles of the Treaty.”
Does that mean the consultation process was assessed in relation to the sharesplus deal and whether that deal was consistent with the Treaty, and because it was, therefore there “is nothing” in that consultation point that is “not resolved” ? I know context and all that and I really must read the whole thing…
Carwyn Jones has written a learned short piece on his initial reaction to the judgement and I recommend reading the whole post but in regards to the paragraph that vexed me he says

As I have noted previously (see here and here), I have had real concerns about the way in which consultation has been undertaken in relation to the Government’s partial privatisation programme.  I accept that the technical requirement of consultation may have been met, and therefore understand the Supreme Court’s decision on this point.  However, what this does suggest to me is that bare requirements of consultation are not likely to be of much help to Māori when it comes to issues such as this.
Good faith consultation is not part of this Government's agenda and certainly not with Māori. We will continue to fight this and allied decisions all the way, for generations if necessary.

they can't break us

Great news that political prisoner Tame Iti has been released from prison. The injustice of his sentence is there forever but as Hone says Tame has increased his mana. 

Mana MP Hone Harawira was at the marae to welcome Iti and believes he has come out of prison a stronger man.
"I think his mana has been enhanced by what he's gone through because those are lessons you just can't get on the outside. He's learnt from that, he's grown from that - he's a better man for it.
"And we as a people - Maori people in particular - are going to be better off for having a leader like this go though those experiences and come out as strongly."
Mr Harawira said Iti has successfully survived all that the state could throw at him.
I really like the attitude of Tame Iti
He held no resentment about being in jail nine months, saying he enjoyed his time there and was able to work and be creative with his art.
Iti said he was inspired by reading a book about former South African leader Nelson Mandela and wants to write one on the history of political prisoners in New Zealand.
His lawyer Russel Fairbrother said an application has been lodged with the Supreme Court to overturn the conviction and sentence.
Tame Iti is a man of mana for fighting for his beliefs and not being bowed and broken by the state. Good news also that fellow political prisoner Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara has also been granted parole and will leave prison on Monday.

Friday, February 22, 2013


I can hardly get my head around the news that Department of Conservation (DOC) has just cut down a 500 year old tree to extend a nearby tramping hut. This is just insanity - these trees should be venerated and worshiped for the aspects of nature and life they display - they are not firewood. Just so disgraceful that DOC would do this and the excuse used by the manager

DoC Buller area manager Bob Dixon said the department had invested $75,000 transforming the 1960s ex-forestry hut.
Moving the hut would have been "phenomenally expensive" in a constrained site; "and we have plenty of trees". It was standard operating procedure when there was a risk to people.
"We are not interested in Mr Lusk grandstanding, particularly when the safety of people is uppermost."
and what has Mr Lusk said
"DoC's excuse was health and safety," Mr Lusk said. "But it's been there for 500 years and (survived) about 20 major earthquakes."
Indeed - it is just a line about health and safety - the money is where the real motivation came from. This mindset of disrespect to nature and our connection to it, has contributed to much of the ill within our societies as we create distance from nature - if you don't know it then it is easier to destroy or exploit or kill.

This is not our nature position, this is imposed and alien to our natural sensibilities - the system we have created is just that - created. And it can be uncreated as well, over time. This must be done to get the balance back.

This tree was our tree - a living entity that deserved protection - shame on DOC for cutting instead of caring.

Thanks Mike in the comments for this photo and that information 

underreported struggles 69

More essential underreported struggles from Ahni at Intercontinental Cry. This information is very important because it builds on the attributes that we will need no matter what happens in the world. Community of all types are the answer, binding together in common cause whether tribe, family, whānau, or any other combination that works. Using group knowledge as displayed in many of these articles showing the struggles of indigenous people around the world - they are our struggles too and we must support their fights for equality and learn from their successes.

underreported struggles 69

Nearly 70 indigenous leaders from Mato Grosso do Sul and various other regions of Brazil delivered the names of more than twenty thousand people to Brazilian authorities, who endorsed the petition “I support the Indigenous”. The unprecedented solidarity petition--which arrived in the midst of increasing violations of indigenous rights in Brazil--demonstrated a welcomed shift in attitude towards Indigenous Peoples by urban populations in Brazil and by the International community.

The US departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Interior signed a memorandum of understanding to start protecting sacred sites. The agreement came just a couple weeks after thieves made off with rock carvings from a sacred Paiute site in California's Sierra Nevada. There was some question, however, concerning the seriousness of the inter-department pledge, given that more than three dozen sacred sites are currently threatened across the US.

More than 600 people from the district of Cañaris, province of Ferreñafe, Peru, blocked a highway and detained three geological engineers employed by the Canadian mining company, Candente Copper. The protest was undertaken in response to the Peruvian government's failure to recognize a community vote in which 95% of participants rejected the company's presence.

Visit Intercontinental Cry to read about these issues and many others.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

when it rains don't go swiming

I am very concerned about our rivers and I know I'm not the only one. When I say rivers I really mean water - that essential component of life that should be available to all. Part of my concern is due to the dairy farming and the excessive cowshit flushed into the water systems. When it rains don't go swimming because many stormwater systems just cannot cope - and that is with human and animal waste.

The story below illustrates the animal waste situation well. (pun intended)

At least 138 Darfield residents had serious stomach upsets after drinking water contaminated with animal waste.
The Canterbury District Health Board's Community and Public Health division has released its report on last year's outbreak of waterborne gastroenteritis in Darfield.
Twenty-nine people tested positive for campylobacter in the July and August outbreak. Another 109 people were defined as having probable campylobacteriosis.
Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Ramon Pink said the outbreak happened after heavy rain caused animal effluent to enter an untreated well.
That is a lot of sick people and I fear this type of event will increase as we continue to bend over backwards to supply dairy farmers with water, so they can make money, and as a consequence we have spoiled water or depleted rivers. It is common I believe and I know of more than a few instances where farmers have diddled the system to get more water than the rivers can allow - leading to dried up streams and fish gasping for breath in fetid ponds. Too often I also see the farmer near us let his cows wander down to the river to drink and shit with impunity - what has happened to the clean streams accord? Well it was voluntary - nuff said.

This despoilment of the commons was touched on by JMG and I recommend reading this post from him. We have to take back our commons and restore equality for people and communities and we have to start now while the rivers have some chance of recovery.

As for dairy farmers - first I would make their personal water supply be sourced downstream from their farms - that would sort 90% of it out quite quickly imo.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Waitangi reflections

I have had a quiet Waitangi Day - we don't have TV so no images of protests or whatever, in fact most of my day was spent in the garden connecting with nature and growing food. I did read about the hand-holding issue up north and the usual abuse of Titewhai Harawira. I loved the way it was sorted out - by the kuia themselves not the men or the media. I struggle to celebrate the day itself because I don't believe that the crown have lived up to their side of the agreement and they have deliberately evaded real questions of equality in the past and today. National and Labour are both too similar for me with their neo-liberal agenda and 'growth is good' mantra's. No for me it is The Mana Party and the Greens for support - that is what I am working on supporting and that is where my energy and faith is going.

It was a tough year last year for me but it ended up unexpectedly well as I got back with the mother of my son and I'm living with them both again. Study is coming up and the ever-present financial issues but with Charlotte and Kahu and me I believe we can make it work - that is where my energy is going too.

Blogging, it seems is still on my agenda - I still have something to say and over time I'll say it.