Osama bin Laden would have more rights to own New Zealand’s coastland under new laws than Maori according to MP Hone Harawira.
The Marine and Coastal Area (Takitai Moana) Bill, which replaces the foreshore and seabed legislation, passed its first reading on Wednesday, and while four Maori Party MPs supported it, Harawira didn’t.
At a press conference at the marae at Auckland University today Harawira said: “If Osama Bin Laden was to come into the country – and that would be easy given the sort of people running our defence forces [a reference to the Stephen Wilce saga] – and buy a piece of the foreshore and seabed he would have more rights than Maori.
No he would not. He would have exactly the same rights as any other person (including Maori) who had purchased a parcel of land which includes a portion of the foreshore or seabed.
Hone is comparing the rights of Maori to the “common marine and coastal area” to the rights of owner or private land. Again – he misses the core difference – people have purchased private title (including many Maori).
What Hone has done is like comparing the rights of Maori over a local public playground to the rights of a private owner of a section, and he is complaining that you can do stuff on private land, which you can’t do on the playground. He misses the point again that there is a difference between land you pay for and purchase, and land you do not.
As it happens, if an Iwi does gain customary title to part of the foreshore, they can do pretty much anything on it a private owner (who has paid for the title) can do – except two things. They can’t sell it, and they can’t exclude people from it. Both things that Iwi have said they don’t want to do.