Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Foreshore & seabed: Consent issues

So, Hone Harawira will not be voting for the government's Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill. In some ways, its expected - Harawira represents the maximalists who believe Māori should own the foreshore by default, rather than those who think having their day in court / at the settlement table is enough - and its not going to prevent the bill from passing. But at the same time it is a problem for the government. As I've repeatedly pointed out, a durable solution to the problem can only happen with overwhelming Māori consent. Harawira's opposition reflects the fact that some Māori at least do not consent, and regard the law as fundamentally unfair. And depending on their numbers (and whether they win or lose the argument within Māoridom), that could mean that we'll still be grappling with this issue in another five or ten years (and at this stage its worth remembering that the rest of the Māori Party's position is one of conditional support; they'll take the marginal improvement, but don't rule out coming back for more later).

Not that that's a problem as far as I'm concerned - I'd rather have that durable solution rather than a quick, unjust one, and getting it takes as long as it takes. But the fools who think they can solve the issue by stamping their foot, unilaterally imposing a settlement without Māori consent and declaring it to be Over may be disappointed.