Sunday 15 July, 2012
Maori Party should walk over this issue but won't - this is exactly the same as the Foreshore and Seabed which saw the Maori Party formed.
John Key's comments insulted the judicial process and attacked the Waitangi Tribunal.
Maori have the opportunity to use the treaty to provide a lead for New Zealanders to stop the asset sales.
Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE.
Another bump in the road for the government's controversial asset sales. This time it's Maori claims over water rights. The week saw an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing into the matter. But the Prime Minister stirred things up by saying the government can ignore the tribunal's outcome, meaning any decision wouldn't affect the sale of Mighty River Power. John Key's attitude towards the tribunal has left many Maori furious - Tariana Turia called it 'corrosive' - and it's left the Maori Party relationship with National in jeopardy. Former Maori Party MP, now Mana Party leader Hone Harawira joins us. Kia ora.
HONE HARAWIRA, Mana Party leader
Kia ora, Corin.
CORIN Do you think the Maori Party should walk now?
HONE I think the Maori Party should have walked over the Marina Coastal Area Bill. They should walk over this. They didn't then; they won't now.
CORIN But it's a reasonable position for them to take. There's a number of hurdles still to come. There's the tribunal's findings to come back. There's potential court action. They need to work through this, don't they?
HONE Who's this, the Maori Party or the government?
CORIN The Maori Party.
HONE Look, you can't talk about the Prime Minster's comments as being corrosive and insulting and inflaming and then stay at the table. You've got to make a decision that- This is exactly what Helen Clark said about the foreshore and seabed. If our Prime Minister is saying this about water, should we be doing what they did then? And the answer is, yes, they should.
CORIN But Helen Clark legislated. She took away a right for Maori. That hasn't been done yet. So why walk away before we get to that point?
HONE Because at the end of the day that's exactly where John Key is heading. He's right to say that it's non-binding, and he can ignore it, but in the same way Helen Clark also ignored the opportunity for the High Court to rule, and she brought in legislation. John Key could do exactly the same thing, and chances are he will. If the Maori Council gets a good ruling from the Tribunal, takes it to the High Court, gets a positive ruling there, I have no doubt that John Key will legislate to take control of the water.
CORIN But the Maori Party's got a relationship here. Why not stay inside the tent, work at them, try and make sure that the Maori Party can get the best that they can get from inside the tent?
HONE You've been at the news desk for the last two or three years, Corin. You tell me. Their flagship policy is Whanau Ora. What's the one success they've had with Whanau Ora?
CORIN Well, they're getting money out into community groups and giving presumably low-income Maori New Zealanders the support they need.
HONE Tariana budgeted that at $1 billion and they've got $134 million. 13.4%. That's no success. It's been an absolute failure in terms of what it was that they aimed to achieve. In terms of what's been a success at Whanau Ora, I doubt that any commentator could tell me. So if you're at the table to achieve those gains, you've gotta ask yourself 'what are those gains?', and if they're not there, and you're continuing to be insulted, then it's time to move.
CORIN All right, I'm gonna ask you about John Key's comments. Do you think he was being deliberate with his comments, or was he being sloppy, or he just didn't think it through?
HONE Don't really care.
CORIN No, but it matters, because if it was deliberate-
HONE What matters is how the rest of New Zealand sees it. Now, by insulting the judicial process and insulting the commitment that Maori have made to that process, he's also sending a signal - 'Get used to this, New Zealand, because if this goes through to the High Court, I'm likely to insult-'
CORIN How exactly did he insult the process? He stated what has happened in the past.
HONE It's also true that in the past governments legislate over the top of the High Court, but do you hear him ever insulting the High Court by saying, 'That's non-binding and we can legislate against that as well'?
CORIN And they do. Governments do legislate.
HONE Yes, they do, but does he ever insult the High Court by saying so?
CORIN How did he insult the Tribunal, though?
HONE Has he ever said that about the High Court? The answer is no. He's attacked the Tribunal because it's seen to be a Maori thing and because he doesn't particularly care for the Maori vote anyway. And by him saying things like, 'Well, I've insulted the Tribunal, but guess what - I'm totally sure, I'm totally positive that this is not going to upset my relationship with the Maori Party.' He already knows that they're going to stay at the table. I'll put down $100 they stay.
CORIN What's your sense on the feeling within Maoridom about this? Is there a sense that there's gonna be hikois heading for parliament about this? Is there the same level of outrage as there was over the foreshore and seabed?
HONE I think the difference between the foreshore and seabed and this one here is that water and the state asset sales are issues that affect all New Zealanders in exactly the same way. The majority of us don't support it. And so I think that what's happening is that John Key is going to see more and more New Zealanders come on board. You're seeing a lot of first-time protestors. You're seeing a lot of marches - big marches - turning into rolling protests. I'm getting emails from Pakehas that I've never met before wishing us well in this fight against the asset sales.
CORIN OK, so the asset sales is one fight, but why are we having the scrap about water ownership now? I mean, this could have happened- You could have gone to the Tribunal, presumably, a long time ago.
HONE Yeah, I think Maori, and Tuwharetoa's made the position, as have another of the claimants in the Tribunal hearing, that as long as water is available for the benefit of all New Zealanders, you know, we're comfortable working slowly through the process of establishing that kaitiakitanga, rangatiratanga and mana, but the minute that the government says, 'We're gonna use that and we're gonna sell shares in the future of the use of that water on the open market,' then that really hurts all of New Zealand.
CORIN That's an excellent point. Tuwharetoa, you could argue, have a pretty good claim. They own a lake which stores the water which gets used for Mighty River Power to generate electricity. That could be a good claim which can go through a separate process. Why do we have to be going through a discussion now about who owns water in general, which is a very hard concept to get your head around? Is it right to ownership of water? What is it?
HONE The Maori Council's claim is quite simple - that the Maori interest in water has yet to be settled. This is not an ownership claim. It's about recognition of Kaitiakitanga and the principle of guardianship over resources that have been part and parcel of our history since we first got here. Every Maori you talk to will identify themselves by their marae, by their mountain, by their river. That is how much water is important to Maori. If we don't settle that interest, those issues will be ongoing, and I'm glad, because I think that Maori have the opportunity here to use the Treaty to provide a lead for all New Zealanders in stopping the sale of the assets that nobody wants.
CORIN Hone Harawira, thank you very much for your time.
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