Saturday, January 08, 2011

Foreshore & seabed: Myth busted

The debate around the government's Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill has been pretty toxic, with Pakeha rednecks claiming that the law will mean ordinary kiwis will be barred from using the beaches by Maori. So, in the interests of introducing some facts into the debate, the Herald today looks at who is really stopping people from using the beaches. Their finding? The problem isn't Maori, but millionaires. The people putting up gates and shutting the public out are farmers and the residents of exclusive gated communities, both of whom effectively privatise public space by restricting access.

If we think this is a problem - and I agree, it is - then the answer is not to restrict justice to Maori, but instead to legislate for free access regardless of who owns the adjacent land. But a solution where Pakeha are allowed to privatise public space while Maori are denied justice and have lesser property rights is not acceptable, and can only be regarded as racist.