Finlayson on The Nation

April 12th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A very interesting interview of Chris Finlayson on at the weekend.

DUNCAN Well what is actually wrong with Mr Harawira’s idea of effectively Maori title, inalienable, you can’t sell it, absolute public access to all New Zealanders, what is wrong with it, is it just that it’s not politically viable for you?

CHRIS Well I think we agree on a lot of things, we agree on inalienability, we agree on public access, what I’m simply saying is that public domain provides a useful starting point, if you were to say absolute Maori ownership, I think the question that would inevitably arise Duncan is, well which Maori, which iwi, which hapu, and I think there could be a lot of cross claims, so I think that the proposal that we’ve put forward is a more sensible way of dealing with it, but look I’m out listening to folk and I’ll see what they’ve got to say.

A nice rebuttal pointing out why the idea of outright Maori Title is a bad one. I also think it is bad because there it would also take us massively beyond what the Court of Appeal said.

DUNCAN I just want to drill down into the report which came out last week about customary title, clearly the government wants to award customary title, let the courts have a look at it at least. What is customary title?

CHRIS There is absolutely no law on customary title in New Zealand, it’s a very vague concept, so what we’re saying is it’s a constrained form of property right, it doesn’t inhibit public access, it’s unable to be sold, there could be a title issue but not under the Land Transfer Act which deals with land, and so we’re not talking about that type of title, but a title could be issued under this legislation, and there’ll be rights to develop and so on, so it’s if you like a constrained property right, which will be available to those who can establish that they’re entitled to it.

Again a nice way of describing customary title – a constrained property right.

DUNCAN So would it allow for instance an iwi with a customary title say in the Bay of Plenty to do a partnership deal with if you like the Chinese government who come forward with a 100 million dollars and say we want to build a number of resorts on your land, lease it to us over 100 years, would Maori with customary title and iwi be able to get away with that?

CHRIS Oh yes but they’d be subject to the Resource Management Act and subject to the other if you like general pieces of legislation, it’s not proposed that this would be a sort of a self governing entity once it was established, so any kind of development would be subject to the usual RMA principles.

This part has got a few people talking, but people should note a number of key things. The first is any development could not be done on beaches – only on the foreshore which is the area between high and low tide.

The second is that as there is no right to block access, building a resort would be very very difficult. And thirdly one would still have to pass the RMA hurdle which would be massive if it was proposed for an area of popular frequenting.

The key thing Chris made clear is that Iwi can use customary title for commercial purposes, subject to the RMA. And this is no surprise to those who have followed the issue, as it has always been about commercial development to some degree – back to the original court case.

CHRIS Well there are two classes of minerals I think we have to talk about, because pre 2004 petroleum had been nationalised, in fact was nationalised by the Labour government in 1937, silver and gold and uranium have always been nationalised minerals, so then there are the other minerals, you’re quite right that that is an issue that I imagine folk are going to want to raise with me, and I’m listening to what they say, and I’m also talking with Gerry Brownlee about that issue.

DUNCAN So are you effectively saying here this morning that you perhaps are willing to compromise around that minerals issue because it’s quite important to Maori, well certainly the Maori I’ve spoken to.

CHRIS Oh I think the socalled traditional reserved ones, Gerry’s already said are off the table, I’m prepared to hear what folk have to say in the course of my hui and public meetings, and then I’ll report back to the Cabinet.

DUNCAN So you’re not ruling out a possible compromise there are you, because right now as we look at your proposal it basically repeals and holds on to that, so you’re not ruling out a compromise with iwi after this series of hui?

CHRIS Oh I’m saying that I can rule out petroleum, uranium, silver and gold, I’m prepared to listen to other people on those other minerals.

Ruling things out in advance of consultation tends to be counter-productive. That does not mean the Government has agreed to them. Also worth noting that this is not about minerals in the entire seabed – only in areas where a claim to customary title is accepted.

What would be interesting is what minerals, outside the four excluded ones, are in the seabed?

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18 Responses to “Finlayson on The Nation”

  1. NeilM (370 comments) says:

    ironsands for one

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  2. wreck1080 (3,522 comments) says:

    The maoris are now claiming the mining rights to unobtanium.

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  3. minto57 (197 comments) says:

    What about the patupairehe I would have thought they have a claim as we seem to be descending into a State of institulised dysfunction

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  4. krazykiwi (9,188 comments) says:

    What would be interesting is what minerals, outside the four excluded ones, are in the seabed?

    Extract:

    Seabed Mineral Resources
    :
    Manganese nodules containing nickel, copper, cobalt, and manganese had long been considered the prime economic mineral resource in the deep sea. There are about 10 trillion tons of nodules in the Pacific. However, only a small portion of these deposits contain the economic cutoff percentage of 2 per cent nickel plus copper plus cobalt and are found in concentrations greater than 10 kg/sq. m over an area sufficient for 20 years’ production.
    :
    In the South Pacific, nodule distribution is more irregular; one area of concentration is around the Manihiki Plateau, the Society Islands, Tahiti, and the Tuamotu Arehipelago. Further south, nodules occur west of the East Pacific Rise and north-east of New Zealand

    I’d be interested to hear about traditional Maori use of nickel, copper, cobalt, and manganese in pre-European times.

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  5. Captain Neurotic (206 comments) says:

    My GF is doing her law dissertation on a similiar topic, more so to do with Maori and rights to any minierals mined in NZ. She is focusing on the fact that even though the law recognises their customary title to the sea and that they have been fishing from the sea for centuries – this is not so with mining, there is no evidence that the Maori were mining minerals from NZ (except for green stone which they have recognised rights for) prior to europeans occupation and that without western technology, they could not do so.

    Also there is the consideration of how the Maori view the land differently from Europeans (or atleast used to) – this would affect whether they would think it appropriate to mine NZ without the influence of the European view of using the land to promote indivdual and community interests and financial gains.

    Personally – I sit in the one rule for all kiwi’s boat, until then we will continue to have a divided nation – pisses my GF off alot!

    However, still a very interesting area of law/sociology and agreed KK

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  6. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    I’m still waiting for an explanation about how this clears anything up. If it is an improvement on what we have now- they need to explain how. Bit like George W on the aircraft carrier- declare victory and hope to move on.

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  7. Jeff83 (765 comments) says:

    Can I say that irony has an interesting sense of humour? You (DPF) are one of the voices trying to bring rationality into the debate being also the person who was in part behind the whole strategy of the Iwi / Kiwi debacle which led to this mess (by your own earlier admission in an earlier post somewhere).

    Its like going to a party, helping cause allot of mess and then cleaning it all up, all with no real benefit in the middle (with Brash losing and all).

    Just a cheeky little thought.

    [DPF: I was Beaches for All, not Iwi/Kiwi]

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  8. Jeff83 (765 comments) says:

    “Bit like George W on the aircraft carrier- declare victory and hope to move on.”

    Wasnt victory was “mission accomplished” hehe, was funny.

    Good analogy though, as what exactly customary title is entitled to is far from black and white.

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  9. Jeff83 (765 comments) says:

    [DPF: I was Beaches for All, not Iwi/Kiwi]

    Ok my bad. Similar point though :)

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  10. MIKMS (163 comments) says:

    Salt! they can have as much of that as they like from the sea bed :D

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  11. jinpy (237 comments) says:

    So we would get public access, but not necessarily free public access, to these areas. Not my ideal solution. There’s enough beach land effectively blocked off by private land owners as it is, let alone places such as resorts charging you to sit on the beach.

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  12. noodle (151 comments) says:

    All I foresee is endless, taxpayer funded litigation, bad Maori/Pakeha relationships and ongoing pissoffedness. Just more of the same really. Give it another 100 years, then things may change for the better. Or not. It doesn’t really matter.

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  13. Caleb (465 comments) says:

    just another avenue for low key iwi pay-offs, to allow foreshore and seabed developements to get through the RMA process.

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  14. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    I’m dubious about customary title being used for development. I can perhaps understand aquaculture, but I’m not certain about developments. If the land is owned in the public domain, and everyone has access to it, how will that play with developments? Does the public domain owner (the govt?) get paid rent? Can people walk willy nilly through the middle of the aquaculture setup (given freedom of access)? Can they go fishing in the middle of the fish nets?

    I actually don’t have a problem with Maori or others being able to develop aquaculture, but I thought we already had a fisheries settlement that covered this area. So they should be doing it on a common basis to any other NZer (read – impossible due to the RMA). I think the govt need to be a bit careful here.

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  15. CJD (334 comments) says:

    It is not often that Finalyson makes any sense at all in my book. What he said on Sunday frightens the uptight whities at one extreme and enrages redical Maori at the other end. What is wrong with the seabed and forshore remaining in Crown ownership? The use of the term “Crown” is an anachronism in any case. It is a carefully chosen word that implies that the NZ government is in some way a foreign entity; some form of occupying force with less legitimacy than Tangata Whenua. Let us call it what it is-it is the “NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT”-the elected goernement that serves all of us. We know that this issue is about more than just mana-it is about the vast potential mineral wealth. Lets not attempt to placate radical with vaugue promises Chrissy-man up!!

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  16. Pete George (21,798 comments) says:

    The use of the term “Crown” is an anachronism in any case.

    You’re right, we shouldn’t still have a link to some old foreign biddy’s bonce adornment.

    The seabed and foreshore should be seen as on loan to all New Zealanders.

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  17. JiveKitty (869 comments) says:

    @Noodle: I agree. What frustrates me most perhaps is that the whole Maori/Pakeha idea is a false dichotomy that people are willing to exploit and create divisiveness for whatever reason, primarily personal gain, I believe.

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  18. CJD (334 comments) says:

    Noodle/JiveKitty-Finlayson’s proposed path sounds like a lawyer’s solution to the benefit of other lawyers. We know from experience around the globe that the endless litigation that results from such claims benefit mainly the lawyers, and the longer they are able to stretch out the proceedings the greater the benefits.
    As far as race relations-whetever solution is proposed one will invariably take hits from the extremes at both poles. In the middle though (where the real gains are to be made in terms of forstering good relations) there is indeed a “false dichotomy.’ ONE NEW ZEALND FOR ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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