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Submission to the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, Jul 10 2004 (edited)

New Zealand Equality Education Foundation

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Although we think there is room for debate as to the correctness of the landmark Court of Appeal decision in 2003 which sparked this Bill, we consider that the decision was well enough grounded for the Maori people to feel a justified sense of grievance that the Bill is a majoritarian and racist attempt to rob them of their property. New Zealand is professedly a democracy, and Parliament is of course sovereign, but the naked use of legislation to overturn a court decision must always look like an attack on the Rule of Law, which is bound to be destabilising -- especially when the issue is a minority's rights.

Let me emphasise that we have long been in favour the National Party's current position of opposition to racial privileges for Maoris -- in fact, we held this position long before the National Party did. Routinely including race as a research variable will routinely thrown up apparently race-based variation which might well have appeared as a diet-based, drug-use based, or family-structure-based (etc.) variation, if those variables were routinely included, instead of race. (see: afaction.html ). However, one aspect of Equality is surely that one group's property rights should not be selectively legislated into oblivion.

We would also like to take this opportunity to decry the bullying that some Maoris -- like many Feminists -- use towards people who have been known to say things that they dislike. I myself, for example, have occasionally been subjected to not-so-subtle suggestions from Maoris that I might meet with an automobile accident. Presumably, this is because I say things such as that Maori loan-words in English should not be pronounced in a "proper" Maori way, unless Maoris themselves return the complement by pronouncing English loan-words in Maori in a "proper" English way. One senior Maori teacher at The Correspondence School only just restrained himself from punching me, when I expressed this point of view to him. Maori women (including Law students) are also, in my experience, amongs the most physically aggressive of Feminists. Because Maoris leave school relatively young, on average, Maoris are particularly easy meat for simplistic Feminist, man-hating propaganda, which many Maoris then take to be God's Truth.

Likewise, we are not so naive as to think that Non-Maoris would not be excluded, in some cases at least, from areas of the seabed and foreshore that Maoris were allowed to take control of. For example, I have been told that a group advocating the abolition of separate Mori seats in Parliament were ordered off a beach at Waitangi on Waitangi Day in one year (in 2003, I think), on the grounds that it was a "Maori beach" !

Nevertheless, the New Zealand Equality Education Foundation believes that Justice must be done. There has been a lot of talk on the political Right of the need to end the so-called Maori "Grievance Industry". Suggestions made in this context involved speeding up the processing of Waitangi Tribunal claims, which seems quite reasonable. However, passing this Seabed and Foreshore Bill will create a whole new Grievance Industry ! Putting these two facts together suggests that the Right is less interested in doing Justice than in being able just to forget about Maoris.

From a practical point of view, too, passing this Bill will just serve to increase the "market share" and credibility of those "radicals" who might otherwise appear to be on the lunatic fringe of Maori society. These radicals are only using the Treaty of Waitangi for what they can get out of it, and it is clear that they have racist constitutional aims which are incompatible with any reasonable interpretation of the Treaty -- and these aims will only gain in respectability within Maoridom, when Maoridom is radicalised by the passing of this Bill.

There is also the international dimension. There is a vast international list of entities ready and willing to turn the Maoris into heroic victims and the rest of New Zealand into an international pariah on this issue, we believe.

No matter that the term "indigenous" is incoherent, as usually used (see: dumbindi.html ). The international Indigenous Rights movement, Hollywood, and the international Human Rights movement -- plus countries such as Japan, where expansionist ideas have often been linked to theories of affinities between Japan and other Pacific peoples -- are, we believe, ready and willing to turn New Zealand into another South Africa. A lot of racists are ready and willing to feed on the racist tradition that, if your ancestors had a white skins and used a sailing boat to conquer a territory that makes you a "Colonialist" -- whereas if your ancestors had non-white skins and conquered territories in canoes, on foot or on horseback, this turned them into indigenous inhabitants of the countries they conquered.

The basic racism underlying this Bill, we feel, is a conservative wish to keep the Maoris in their place -- at the bottom of the economic heap. We all feel better if we can look down on someone -- in this case, on Maoris. It is clear that the defeat of this Bill might well bring economic windfalls to many Maoris, giving them control of economically important resources which would take many of them off welfare benefits and out of crime, and give them self-respect. The "False Prophet" said: "There's no use in exalting the humble and the meek. They don't remain humble and meek once they're exalted". We can't expect Maoris to be devoid of arrogance if their economic situation improves, but that is not a good enough reason to deny them their rights !


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Peter Douglas Zohrab

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21 May 2023