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Q + A: Panel response to Winston Peters interview

Published: 3:06PM Sunday July 05, 2009 Source: Q + A

Response to WINSTON PETERS interview

PAUL Alright what do the panel have to say about this Foreshore and Seabed business.  For this segment our panel is joined on this special occasion by Winston Peters himself.

 A couple of pieces of reaction to you already on the programme.

 Winston please come back and keep politicians honest.

 And the other one is Peters is a has been, just a stirrer.

 Now the rules on the panel are different, are you standing in 2011 or not?

WINSTON Look I'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

PAUL Well what do you say to all the New Zealand First people as Guyon was asking.

SIR DOUG No, no, there aren't any.

WINSTON Well actually we would be the third largest party membership in this country still.

PAUL Do you have meetings, do you keep in touch with your New Zealand First people?

WINSTON Yes oh we have all those things, and I'd love to come on a programme about this, but it's about the Foreshore and Seabed, and New Zealanders want to know tomorrow what are we gonna do.

PAUL The Foreshore and the Seabed Act, Doug Graham, Mr Peters is saying you know it is separatist, the committee was stacked, it's put this right back in the middle, it was a perfectly good Act that the majority of Maori were happy with, now we've stirred up a rats' nest with this deal, yea?

SIR DOUG Yeah I think it was pretty right, I think it was a very hard job to find a solution, I think they did pretty well, and I think at the end of the day.

PAUL What do you mean, the Labour?

SIR DOUG Yeah, yeah, and it took away rights, but that's done from time to time go go to the court.  The difficulty is what do you do now, Maori people have been demanding its repeal, I think they'll live to regret that, but anyway it will be repealed.  Question what happens next - answer they should let it go to the Court of Appeal and the High Court, Supreme Court, decide what the rights are, I don't think there will be any, I don't think Maori will ever establish customary title to the seabed and ahika of the seabed, it's all just nonsense, can't see it, I would think they'll struggle on the foreshore, but one or two might, they have to prove according to the overseas jurisprudence that they were in exclusive possession in 1840.

METIRIA Well those tests that are in the current law like contiguous land ownership like exclusive possession since 1840, those tests do not apply or shouldn't apply in a Treaty based nation like our own.  We need to do it based on our Treaty jurisprudence.  But I do think there's a couple of issues, one is that you can't blame Maori for all talking about title, because of course Aboriginal title comes out of the 1066 Norman Conquest, it's been part of the western legal paradigm for nearly a thousand years, so it's not their fault that the title is the way that it's describe, but what is sought here is the right to go back to court, and I think the Review Panel has made some significant mistakes potentially in advocating for a settlement approach.  I think that will be politically dangerous particularly for the Maori Party.

PAUL Hone said this, I mean it's Hone's allegation of course that the Cullen Clark act stole the Foreshore and Seabed.  This is what he said:

 'Hone Harawira:  Once the court says it does not belong to the Crown, and then the Crown passes a piece of legislation to assume absolute control of it, that's stealing it, it's as simple as that.'

PAUL  First of all is he right?

WINSTON  The court never said that, that's number one, and number two Metiria - look Ngati Porou had no difficulty under the Act proving their rights.

METIRIA  They did it under negotiations they didn't do it under the Act at all.

WINSTON Look Ngati Wai would have no difficulty.  You've got some activist Maori running round this country with no right whatsoever on the foreshore pretending to speak for us, that's what Api Mahuika complained about and that's what I'm concerned about.

JON Remember too that the Prime Minister said that what he was looking for out of this review was clarity and simplicity and you know I agree with Doug in the sense that the most clarifying and simple answer is to return this to the courts and let those rights be tested.

PAUL Well didn't the ACT give us clarity and simplicity?

SIR DOUG Well I think it tried to, but obviously it wasn't acceptable.  You see what has happened is - Maori people came to say we've never sold it therefore we still own it.  That is not true.  I mean they have to prove a customary title, and they have to prove it in the courts.

METIRIA Well that's not true necessarily either, the Crown has to demonstrate that they extinguished their customary title...

SIR DOUG No they don't.

PAUL Well for godsake can I ask this very simple question?  Why doesn't the Foreshore and Seabed belong to all of us, let's suck it in and move on.

WINSTON Take the seabed - the seabed 197 miles of the seabed came by international treaty post 1840, how can then the Maori people as much as we might want to, claim it to be ours, we got it as a nation together.

METIRIA  Well of course these guys are denying the fact the Aboriginal title does exist in our law and is able to be explored.

SIR DOUG No we're not, we're saying you have to prove it.

PAUL We are all immigrants.

METIRIA And the point is - but that is what the problem is, the Act took away the right to go to court to explore customary title, now that should be restored, that is the problem, so I don't understand how you can say there is no ownership ....

WINSTON Mr Holmes just said then something I've heard repeatedly, we're all immigrants - rubbish.  An immigrant is someone living in a country not of his or her birth.  Now let's cut out having this debate on this issue.

PAUL Alright Jon can I just get you to discuss the politics of this, has John Key bitten off something he will have difficulty chewing?

JON Well he has to confront this and you know we're focused intensely at the moment on the Foreshore and Seabed but it is one of several problematic areas that are going to confront successive Prime Ministers and their governments, Maori seats, you know the role of the Treaty in the 21st century, the role of the Treaty in possibly a future written constitution.  So one of the things about the report that I did actually agree with is that the language there is talking about a long conversation, specifically about the Foreshore and Seabed, but the point that was being made there is that the process is as important as the outcome and I think it's how we learn to engage better is actually going to be the key to unlocking how successful our race relations are going to be into the future.

PAUL  Sir Douglas Graham has your party made a big mistake?

SIR DOUG No I don't think so, I think there was enormous demand obviously for the repeal of the Act, and I think they set up this thing, now whether it was totally biased or not is another matter but I've got great respect for those people who were on it, they've brought forward some recommendations.  At the end of the day we have to find out whether the rights exist or not and have been proved.  Now if they've done that, then the Crown's going to have to sit down with Maori and say well okay you've proved here there and everywhere that there's a customary title, how on earth are we going to preserve public access bla bla bla.  Now until we've got the decision that there is some customary title then it's pointless now trying to gallop on to the next stage.

PAUL  We will throw it up to the Supreme Court?

SIR DOUG Yes.

METIRIA It should go to the court, I think politically the Maori Party have got a problem if they accept a negotiation route for this, because a smaller iwi and hapu who've been fighting for the right to go to court will not accept it, bigger iwi and hapu will be able to negotiate on their behalf, so for the National Party choosing a negotiation or settlement approach would be good for them, for the Maori Party I think there's a serious electoral issue.

WINSTON  The great mistake for Maori was this, they run the risk if they were to be honest with themselves of going to the court and finding they have no right at all.

SIR DOUG That's right.

WINSTON  Accepting the Foreshore and Seabed set out a passage for rights, fundamental and significant coastal tribes said yes we go with that, but what you've got in Maoridom is a stack of people that march up and down the place protesting as though they speak for the coastal tribes when they most certainly do not, and this is the most deleterious result as a consequence.

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