Monday, November 22, 2004

Appalling ignorance II

Tristan objects to being called ignorant for "not being fully briefed on the The Kauwaeranga case of 1870". Except that it's not just about the Kauwaeranga case, and his ignorance goes well beyond "not being fully briefed" - I'd call it "total unawareness". And it has consequences - a strong subtext of Tristan's post was that foreshore claims were a scam and that Maori had made the whole thing up. It is only through ignorance of continuous assertions of ownership in numerous cases over a period of 130 years that such beliefs can be maintained.

(This is not to say that claims are justified - it's perfectly possible to regard the case for Maori ownership as weak. Maori have after all lost almost all of those cases. But it is impossible to argue that modern claims are automatically brought in bad faith in light of the historical background).

There's no implication that ignorance disqualifies anyone from having an opinion. However, it may result in that ignorance being corrected, or the opinion not being taken seriously. These are the risks you bear when you venture into the marketplace of ideas...

However, beyond his huffiness over having his ignorance pointed out, Tristan makes a good point as well:

many if not all claims to the foreshore and seabed before our current state were in regards to fishing and collecting shellfish. Now those rights are already safe guarded under the fisheries act. In fact even the case that brought this all to a head was in fact about who could build a mussel farm and where.

Yes - and both the fisheries and aquaculture settlements undoubtably weaken the strength of territorial claims. The most important rights in the bundle have been dealt with, leaving little else to support a claim of exclusive ownership.