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Q+A: Hone Harawira interview

Published: 1:21PM Sunday May 02, 2010 Source: Q+A

Q+A's Paul Holmes interviews Maori Party MP Hone Harwaira.

PAUL It's been a very successful few weeks for the Maori Party back in New Zealand here, Wednesday night saw a very big tax hike on cigarettes, 10% immediately, another 10% next year and the year after, and this follows Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples secretly flying to New York City to sign on behalf of the government the very controversial United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and the very issue that caused the Maori Party to form, the Foreshore and Seabed Act, the government's agreed to repeal, but what will it replace it with. So we say good morning now to Maori Party MP Hone Harawira, thank you very much for coming on Q+A this morning.

HONE HARAWIRA - Maori Party MP Kia ora Paul.

PAUL Kia ora, 30% price rise on tobacco by 2012, you're happy about that of course, and then after that do you want ongoing increases?

HONE That's what the legislation is proposing, I think eventually what Tariana's looking for is enough buy in from the New Zealand community, that tobacco is no longer an accepted product on our shelves.

PAUL But who is that price rise gonna have the most effect on?

HONE Well thankfully we've heard already from Quitline that it's really just gone right through the roof the number of calls that they've been receiving, so clearly already New Zealanders of all persuasions are ringing to say look this is enough I want to get out of here.

PAUL Well I was wondering about the Maori community itself, because 40% of Maori smoke. It's likely now with your price rises coming over the next couple of years that many Maori children could be even more deprived as more and more is spent on fags, tobacco after all being an addiction.

HONE Yep. That's one argument I happen to know from a lot of folks at home, and I've been talking to a lot of folks since this happened the other day, that a lot of people are seriously choosing to give up, in fact far more than I thought would normally do it.

PAUL Well yes but you've said to me that they will be deprived, possibly more Maori children will be deprived, how many will be worse off, have you done the numbers?

HONE Come on Paul.

PAUL Don't you give a bugger about the numbers?

HONE Hang on there Paul, look this is about trying to save lives. That's why Tariana took this measure Paul, and the aim is to try and stop 600 Maori and 5000 New Zealanders dying every year from tobacco.

PAUL How many more Maori families are gonna be worse off, have you done the numbers?

HONE I'd say none, because the more Maori that stop smoking the better off Maori families are gonna be.

PAUL But you see smoking as I say is an addiction, we all know it's an addiction and it's very likely&.

HONE If we all know it's an addiction Paul, then why don't we in government, why don't we as New Zealanders, say let's get rid of it?

PAUL Yes but I mean this is extra money you're taking from a smoking household that might not be able to pay for school trips or new shoes or..?

HONE Oh come on Paul. I mean at the end of the day there is no action apart from a complete ban that reduces smoking as much as a price hike, it's tough love. But it's something that we've gotta do on the journey towards making this a smoke-free Aotearoa.

PAUL There is history on this you know. The price of a packet of cigarettes went up in 2000, quite a big rise, many people stopped but 80,000 of those who stopped were back on the fags within four months, so the research tells us. So increasing the price does not work.

HONE Well increasing the price does work if you're going to back up the support services to ensure that those who do stop stay stopped.

PAUL Australia, they're planning a move to plain packaging. Now of course the big tobacco companies are up in arms about that, and say they will fight to protect their intellectual property and their branding. Would you like to see that here, an end to the fancy packets?

HONE I think that's another strategy. The price rise is one, taking away the branding is another, taking the displays of cigarettes out of the power zone, putting them behind the counters, that's another, reclassifying cigarettes as a drug - there is no other product on the market which does as much to the body that's not classified as a drug - and limiting sales in different areas. There's a whole range of things that can be done.

PAUL So is that a yes on the plain packaging.

HONE And banning the displays.

PAUL Can I just ask you quickly, how did Mrs Turia get such wide cross party support?

HONE I'd like to say because everybody in parliament's intelligent, but I suspect it's because nobody wanted to be seen to be opposing a move to stop smoking.

PAUL What about the alcohol business? We have the same research on alcohol, so why not increase the tax on alcohol?

HONE You'll have to ask all of those people who drink Paul, I don't drink so I have nothing to do with the liquor bans.

PAUL That would be politically difficult would it?

HONE Only because most of your rich guys drink.

PAUL Let's move on to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the United Nations. New Zealand has signed on to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people.

HONE Wonderful isn't it?

PAUL Sir Edward Durie says it's the most significant for Maori since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Why does he say that?

HONE Well I don't know, you'll have to ask him.

PAUL I'm asking you why you think he might say it, because you're pretty cock-a-hoop about it too.

HONE I am absolutely, because I think that in terms of a statement on the rights of indigenous peoples, there hasn't been another one since then of such magnitude. This one affirms the Treaty and it establishes norms which are accepted throughout the world.

PAUL It doesn't really do anything. It doesn't do anything, John Key says it has no position in law in New Zealand, and he calls it aspirational. So you've got nothing, it's blankets and beads.

HONE John Key might say that, but the reality is that the Treaty was once seen to be aspirational. It has now filtered down into New Zealand domestic law, and you will see the Declaration applied to your children and your grandchildren, and all of your other mokopuna as well Paul, and they'll be happy.

PAUL So does Eddie Durie do you think have a better understanding of the Declaration than John Key?

HONE No, I think they both have a very good understanding of it, except I think Eddie understands it from the position of how it's going to apply for Maori.

PAUL Would he be hoping perhaps, but will you be hoping, that it makes its way into the New Zealand courts, that they start to recognise it?

HONE I think it's inevitable that it will be used by Maori and New Zealand courts. It will be used by Maori in terms of taking claims to the United Nations, it'll be used by Maori in a whole range of ways but I don't think it's going to be to the detriment of our society, I mean New Zealand has already signed up to the Declaration on the rights of women, on the rights of children, on the rights of workers, on the rights of dogs, I mean what's wrong with doing one for Maori?

PAUL Well, let's have a look at a couple of the articles, because it's quite heavy duty isn't it. Article 4 of the Declaration promises indigenous people the "right to autonomy or self government", you believe you'll get that?

HONE Isn't that what you're hearing through the claims from Tuhoe? Isn't that what you're hearing through the claims from Iwi groups all around the country already, and those claims were already in before we affirmed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? Those claims Paul, I know you have heard them, New Zealanders have been hearing them for the last 30, 40 years. It's not like this has just brought it up.

PAUL But if you look at Article 26, it says indigenous peoples "have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied, or otherwise used or acquired". Do you believe Maori now have that right under the Declaration?

HONE And isn't that the basis of all of the Treaty claims we see happening all around the country Paul?

PAUL Yeah but if you look at Article 26...

HONE But isn't that exactly what the Treaty claims are all about? They're a claim to lands and forests and fisheries right throughout your tribal territory. Now all this is, is an affirmation of what we already know to be true under the Treaty.

PAUL Yes but Article 26 goes further than those individual claims. It indicates that really you could have an aspiration to get the whole country back. Is that the strategy?

HONE No look Paul. If you asked 100 Maori 99% of them will say that's pretty much the aspiration, Paul. The Declaration doesn't change that, it affirms that.

PAUL Yes so what is the aspiration? What do you hope really, materially, to get from this acceptance of the Declaration?

HONE I think the Declaration is an affirmation of the kinds of standards that Maori should have in line with indigenous people all over the world, I think it sets some benchmarks for where we think we might be going in the future, I think it gives way to our claims in terms of our lands, our language, and our culture, and I think it just gives Maori people a lift.

PAUL Labour of course didn't sign on to the Declaration, because Crown Law were advising them it could apply to the whole of New Zealand.

HONE Yeah Labour's the crowd that is happy to sign on for the rights of dogs but not for the rights of Maori.

PAUL The Foreshore and Seabed, that's pretty heavy.

HONE That's also true.

PAUL The Foreshore and Seabed, now the government are going to repeal the Act, and they're gonna put the Foreshore and Seabed, this is Christopher Finlayson's position at the moment, they're gonna put the Foreshore and Seabed into public domain. Does that suit the Maori Party at all?

HONE We were swept in on a wave of get rid of that Act, the repeal means that we could sign off and just leave it there, and not worry about it. But we have been hearing from all around the country, and I think Chris has been hearing it as well, Christopher Finlayson, three things - one, Maori are happy with the repeal - two, we think it's appropriate that we should have our rights restored to go back to court - but three, we think that that title should still be going a lot further towards tupuna title than just public domain, Crown title, tupuna title, public domain, still is actually owned by the Crown, so we need to see it go quite a bit further before Maori would be happy.

PAUL Right, so what they're telling you in hui around the country is it's ours, we want it back?

HONE Actually that's what they're telling Chris, and I've been to a number of those hui, but they've told him that at every single hui.

PAUL What are they telling you?

HONE Exactly the same but harder.

PAUL In other words, it was ours before 1840, we neither gave it away nor sold it, we want it back.

HONE We should sign you up, Paul.

PAUL Why is it Maoris'?

HONE Because it was always Maori, why shouldn't it be Maori today? I mean, have you heard through of this debate any sense, even like during the march when Maori were really really pissed off with what was going on, have you ever heard a sense that we want it back so you couldn't come to the beach?

PAUL Yes.

HONE From who? Now don't say from your ex-wife.

PAUL I'm fibbing.

HONE Yeah.

PAUL So public domain doesn't do it for you, is not gonna do it for your party?

HONE I don't think public domain does it for anybody. It's really just the option that the Crown thinks it might be acceptable, but I really don't think that that's where Maori want, well I know that it's not where Maori want to be. And I think it's kinda wishy washy for the rest of the country. Certainty is what we all want Paul.

PAUL But is Finlayson going to be able to deliver this?

HONE I don't know, I think his heart's in the right place.

PAUL They've gotta sell it to the majority of course.

HONE No he's only gotta sell it to his Cabinet, but he's gonna have trouble there. I think there's room there for us to negotiate a process which enables - I'd like to think we could have longer time to do this, so that we could bring in something like a commission like they had with the fisheries, so you get some sense of what it is that Maori would really want to do and how that might impact the rest of New Zealand.

PAUL What's the timeframe, it sounds like you've got a long way to go. Given what the hui people are telling you, giving the national stance, given your objection to public domain, given the difficulty of the government selling it to the Pakeha, how long, and are you going to be able to do it?

HONE If we wanted to get repeal we could sign off in July and we'd have repeal and probably not get the afterwards that we wanted.

PAUL What would you have if you just had repeal?

HONE And go back to the option before where we could go back to court, but our view is that in fact the Kevin Rudd view which is if the whole world knew that Aboriginal people were here first how come they have to go to court to prove that they were here. Now it's the same here, we already know we were here, the whole world knows we were here first, how come we have to go to court, it's kinda silly isn't it? Don't you agree it's kinda silly, Paul?

PAUL I can see the logic of it Hone, but then I can also see the logic of having a sea, an ocean, a foreshore and a seabed and simply having it in the public domain.

HONE Seventy percent of it already isn't Paul. It's owned by private landowners, a lot of them foreigners, and we don't already have access to 70% of our foreshore and seabed. What we're saying is if you put it into Maori title, then it's sure it's inalienable, it's going to be there for all of your mokopuna forever. That's gotta be a good deal.

PAUL Hone Harawira, it was a pleasure and I thank you very much indeed, and those were very cheeky remarks.

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