Wednesday, March 27, 2013

killing me softly with his song

This post covers a range of areas that are interrelated and they are: the adequacy of consultation with Māori and how the current system is another divide and conquer strategy from the Government with a direct whakapapa to past practices designed to alienate land from Māori. It also looks at the proposed exploration process for vast tracts of lands currently in process and adds in the massive job losses at Department of Conservation who manage one third of this country's land.

One very disturbing aspect of the recent Supreme Court decision dismissing the appeal on the Māori Councils bid to halt the sale of Mighty River Power was their acceptance that the Government had adequately consulted with Māori. The actual consultation process was woefully inadequate and a total smokescreen and it reminded me of the way previous Governments used to pretend that Māori were consulted with. The approach is a derivative of the divide and conquer ideal so loved by oppressive regimes and is still being used willy-nilly by the Government to advance its agenda to sell off and exploit the land..

Carwyn Jones wrote about the Supreme Court decision and said
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.
Recently has said this about the exploration permits to advance proposed mining of a very large area of land
Please panui far and wide, because if past or present ‘consultation’ is anything to go by the whanau, hapu and iwi probably won’t ever hear about it, it’ll be quiet meetings behind closed doors with Crown picked and preferred representatives
This proposed mining covers
permits to explore for metallic minerals over 8,261.09 sq km of prospective land in the Taupo Volcanic Zone in the central North Island.
The tract stretches from Lake Taupo to Tauranga, encompassing Tokoroa, and stopping just short of Whakatane.
"This process will ensure exploration permits are granted to the best operator(s) capable of delivering safe and environmentally responsible exploration programmes and will maximise the return to New Zealand from this valuable resource.
and they love putting in the consultation aspect
"At this stage, we are seeking input from iwi, hapū and councils in the area, to identify areas of particular sensitivity."
It is worth considering how the Government in the past alienated Māori land – this is one way they did it.

The Native Lands Act 1865 was a major mechanism used by the Government to alienate Māori lands but how did it actually work. The preamble gives a direct answer to the purposes of the Act where it says the Act was, “to encourage the extinction of such propriety customs and to provide for the conversion of such modes of ownership into titles derived from the Crown”. 

Section 48 barred all other interests in the land except those interests named in the title and this was devastating to the previous ownership model used by Māori. Section 23 authorised the Court to issue certificates of title but only 10 persons could be named and if the land did not exceed 5000 acres then the title could not be issued to a tribe, but in practice this issuing of 10 persons was applied to all blocks of land even if they exceeded 5000 acres. These 10 people had full legal authority as tenants in common which meant that if someone died their interests did not pass to their heirs but rather to the other co-owners of the land. 

So many hundreds of owners were cut out of their land by these provisions; they were alienated in favour of the 10 named persons. Furthermore only evidence presented in court was considered in any dispute over the ownership. Once notification was made interested parties had to be personally present to lay their evidence down and if they didn’t see the notice, were sick or unable to travel to the court, their rights, even though known by the judges, were discarded and not even considered. 

Often many presumptive owners did not even hear about the court date until after the period allowed for appeals had expired. 

Customary right-holders were forced into the Native Court Hearing if one of the 10 individual claimants created an application, other presumptive owners were not given notice, the Court refused to consider anything other than the evidence of those present at the hearing. The Treaty made rangatira absolute owners of their land and this Court process took away the trusteeship, kaitiakitanga role, and mana of those rangatira through legislation. The Crown had guaranteed those rights and the rights of thousands of Māori within the treaty and the Courts (as an extension of the Crown) had extinguished them.

The latest job cuts to the Department of Conservation are also related to this issue because one third of the land in this country is managed by them. The Green Party and Forest and Bird are rightly concerned about the biodiversity of our endemic species and they say
"With the department already pared to the bone these latest cuts will mean less protection of our special native plants and wildlife,"  Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.
"DOC manages more than a third of the land in New Zealand and the argument that volunteers and a few corporate sponsors will fill in the gaping hole these cuts and continued pressure on department spending create is nonsense.
"National is trying to turn DOC into a corporate entity focused on stakeholders and corporate sponsorship at the expense of its key role to to protect and preserve native plants and animals," Sage said.
More than 265 jobs have been cut from the Department since National took power. Ninety-six positions were cut in the last restructuring in 2012 alone.

John Key the Prime Minister says that DOC are overstaffed lol. He’s not interested in what the Auditor General recently said about DOC
The move came after a report from the Office of the Auditor General praised DOC's structure, saying regional staff were its biggest strength. It also warned of the risks of relying on commercial partnerships, as the department tries to shore up its coffers.
So we have a new land grab by the Government under the guise of exploration for minerals with a dubious consultation process with Māori and we have a reduction in Department of Conservation adequacy to protect our endemic species and the land they are charged with protecting. The exploitation and alienation of Māori and their land continues and the process is not dissimilar to the underhanded and dishonest way it was done in the past. 

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