Thursday, August 26, 2004

News Digest

This first goes out on 95bfm at 8 10 on a Friday morning

It’s funny how things can get taken out of context. Or not so funny.

Thursday saw the first day of the Auckland round of submissions on the Foreshore and Seabed bill.
The Parliamentary select committee was sitting in session at the Alexandra Park Raceway. Interestingly, this venue was also the scene for a NZ First Convention – which was held in the then wonderfully named Delightful Lady Lounge.

Unfortunately, since the NZ First do the Lounge has been renamed the Rutherford Room, which perhaps better suits the dry and boring duties of a select committee.
Except on Thursday it was anything but dry and boring.

The Police were in attendance, secretaries complained of intimidation, separatist flags were kinda flown – or at the very draped prominently over tables, ejections were threatened, and civil war was apparently warned of.

Pretty heady stuff, though we shouldn’t be too surprised over what this Foreshore and seabed Bill manages to throw up – it has already spawned a Hikoi of over 10,000 marching on Parliament, a brand new Maori Party, some strife with technically apolitical public servants – although that seemed to be more a case of Labour beliefs are okay everything else no way – not to mention feeding ugly race based campaigning by National and ACT.

Sooooooo. The big news in the Papers and on the telly was that Head of Maori Studies at Auckland University, Professor Margaret Mutu had asserted that instituting this legislation would lead “inevitably to Civil War.”
That, you could say, is a very big call.
Dr Wayne Mapp, a Nat on the committee, certainly thought so. He seized on this single comment out of Ngati Kahu’s entire lengthy submission that was in reality mainly concerned with the fact that Mana Whenua is being overlooked.
Mana Whenua is loosely the idea that Maori are joint stewards of the land, and having the best, longest and closest relationship to land, they have a responsibility, and a right, to know what’s best regarding that land.
The concept is of course more complex than that but then again isn’t everything?

Well no, at least not if you’re Dr Wayne Mapp. Instead of paying attention to this concept Mapp seized on Professor Mutu’s passing comment that past warnings of civil war may well not be Hyperbole – that is unless these issues are addressed.

Fair enough comment, but still pretty unnecessary to start talking civil war.
The very idea of civil war is fraught with trouble, the country barely has an Army, and what it does have is disproportionately Maori. It is so unlikely that it only throws up questions.
Who would be fighting who? Where? Over whether the Crown should own the land? Didn’t this all happen in the 1800s? Isn’t land confiscation so last millennium? And most importantly aren’t we still paying for mistakes like those through Treaty Claims?

It is all beyond my simple mind. And evidently beyond Dr Mapp’s when he labelled the civil war claim as Treason.

Perhaps if everyone stopped playing the thoughtless exaggeration game this would be a whole lot easier. One thing is for sure - it really has to get sorted soon. It is evident, and dangerous, that just as certain groups become more militant, pretty much everyone else is well bored of the Foreshore and Seabed debate.


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