Happy New Year to you! I hope you have had the chance to rest, relax and enjoy the sun.
The summer break has ended abruptly with the shocking announcement that the government will not be honouring a democratic process currently underway. The Minister of Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta, is working under urgency to abolish a law that allows local referendums to veto decisions by councils to establish Māori wards. The move will be made in time for the 2022 local body elections, and means decisions made by nine councils to establish Māori wards for that election cannot be overturned by local voters. It is difficult to understand how a democratic government could be so arrogant and so disrespectful to all those who have been working diligently to collect enough signatures to force a poll, and to the thousands who have signed the petitions in good faith.
If you too are appalled by this development, please express your views to Prime Minister, the Minister of Local Government, and to your electorate MP. Also, write letters to editors, post messages on social media, including the Labour Party Facebook page – anywhere where your voice can be heard.
The same day Minister Mahuta dropped the bombshell on a democratic process, the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little announced another shocking development - that the Crown has recognised 14 customary marine title areas along the East Cape and East Coast, in favour of Ngāti Porou. In total they cover a significant area of the coastline. So much for the promise by the Key government that it is likely title would only be granted in small and discrete areas. Recognition of Customary Marine Title Order 2020 can be found on the legislation.govt.nz website. The Order has the full list of the customary marine title areas granted to Ngāti Porou.
I think you may agree that it has not been a promising start to the year!
Besides covering the intervention by the Minister of Local Government to remove petition rights relating to Māori wards, in this month’s newsletter we report on the rāhui unilaterally placed by Ngāti Pāoa around the entire coastline of Waiheke Island - without gaining the legal right to do so. The taking of the law into their own hands could well be a manifestation of the push by some in the legal fraternity for a bijural justice system – one incorporating two bodies of law making. See New Zealand challenged by Māori academics to decolonise its legal training.
We also include an update on the Three Waters Reform programme. You may remember that early last year many of us made submissions on the Water Services Regulator Bill. This Bill was passed in July, and the reform programme is now being progressed.
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