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May 2024

Even with the change of government, the fight for democratic governance and equality of citizenship continues unabated. New Zealand is still faced with a determined push for significant political change which involves devolving power to unelected 'iwi/Māori'. This includes the management of our fisheries. Five iwi are currently involved in the Pou Rahui Research Project at Waikato University, which aims to increase political representation and the empowerment of iwi through changes to marine legislation. This includes enhancing iwi capability in implementing and managing rāhui, allowing for iwi-led decision-making based on Māori knowledge and science. The project also aims to assert iwi control over “our taonga species”. A request from iwi for the extension of three temporary fishery closures in the Hauraki Gulf, and one on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula is a step on the way to this goal. Advocating for a ban on seafood gathering is one thing, using this as a means to gain political power and control is an entirely different matter.

In response to the closure requests, Fisheries NZ is seeking public feedback, the details of which are available below at ‘Hauraki Gulf Fishery Closures Set to Extend’. This includes information you may want to use in a submission.

Despite claims from some quarters that co-governance “is good for us”, this month we examine an example of a co-governance arrangement that is causing much angst in local communities, and that is the Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority. According to the legislation establishing the Authority, it must have regard to “the spiritual, ancestral, cultural, customary, and historical significance of the maunga to Nga Mana Whenua o Tamaki Makaurau”. But it also provides that the maunga are held “for the common benefit of Nga Mana Whenua o Tamaki Makaurau and the other people of Auckland”.  (Emphasis added). While democracy is intended to serve the public good by allowing everyone the opportunity to get involved and hold elected representatives accountable, in practice the system of co-governance often prioritises the ‘Maori world view’ and the values of iwi. The views and values of the wider community appear to count for very little. You can read more about this issue below at ‘The Great Tree Massacre’.

The Waitangi Tribunal's recent actions, including its Constitutional Kaupapa Inquiry (Wai 3300) and the increasing number of challenges to government policies, have highlighted the urgency of amending the Tribunal's legislation to align its inquiries with the original intent, as per the commitment made by the government in its coalition agreement with NZ First

A former member of the Waitangi Tribunal, Dr Michael Bassett, has expressed concerns about the Tribunal's current direction in his recent article titled ‘Maori push for parallel government structures’.

No doubt concerned about such actions by the Waitangi Tribunal, Hobson’s Pledge, in its advocacy for equality and unity, has launched a petition to bring an end the Tribunal. According to the petition website “It has done its dash. It was established just under 50 years ago to provide a legal process by which Māori Treaty claims could be investigated, but now continues to push its boundaries to influence more and more Government action. It is the right time to close it down. It was always meant to be a temporary standing commission”.  The text of the petition reads:“We, the undersigned New Zealanders, call on the Government to end the Waitangi Tribunal. Any remaining or future claims can be dealt with either by direct negotiation with the Crown or in the courts”. You can sign HERE

More of our coastline awarded under Marine and Coastal Area Act

In addition to the allocation of approximately 150 km of the south Wairarapa coastline to Māori groups, as reported in our April newsletter, the High Court has now granted the entire Tokomaru Bay coast to two hapū. This extends up to four nautical miles out to sea. The National/NZ First agreement pledged to address this issue, but they are dragging their heels. If action is not taken soon, more foreshore and seabed areas will be awarded to claimants, far in excess of the original intentions of the legislation. If you feel strongly about this matter, please urgently contact the coalition MPs to share your concerns. Key MPs are:

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon – [email protected] 
New Zealand First Leader and Deputy PM Winston Peters – [email protected]
ACT Leader David Seymour – [email protected]
Attorney General Judith Collins – [email protected]
Minister of Justice & Treaty Negotiations Paul Goldsmith – [email protected];
Minister for Courts Nicole McKee –  [email protected]

Recommended reading

In addition to our monthly editor’s choice of interesting articles below at ‘Further news, views and opinions’, another valuable source of information is available at Democracy Documents, collated by Kevin Broughan, (Emeritus Professor, University of Waikato). Kevin’s page includes links to a selection of documents related to democracy in New Zealand: “Although there are many links, they are just a sample of what can be found on the web, but not the mainstream media, in 2023”.

Thank you for your continued interest and support. If you have any suggestions you would like to offer, or if you need further information or help, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

And please help spread the message by sharing our newsletters with anyone who may be interested. You can receive further updates by registering or joining us.

Kind regards,

Susan Short

[email protected]

Hauraki Gulf Fishery Closures Set to Extend

Fisheries New Zealand is seeking public feedback after a request from iwi to extend the temporary closure of specific fishery sites in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.  Continue reading

The Great Tree Massacre

Photo: Once was a magnificent Moreton Bay Fig In July/August 2023 the Tūpuna Maunga Authority destroyed around 60 healthy mature trees on Ōtāhuhu Mt Richmond. Their crime - they were not native. And it has said it is coming back for more. Continue reading

Further news, views, and opinions.......

Please see more items posted on the Democracy Action Facebook page Continue reading