Property rights crisis

July 27, 2019

Yesterday morning Labour Maori caucus co-chair Willie Jackson said government would find itself in serious trouble if it started disregarding iwi mandates when it came to Māori land:

Mr Jackson said he sympathised with those on the frontline, but the government had to respect the settlement. . . 

Mr Jackson said he understood that some felt ripped off, but warned that siding with anyone other than those with the mandate was a dangerous path.

“The day we walk away from mana whenua is the day we might find ourselves in real trouble. Right now we’re committed to supporting to what they’ve signed up for – as hard as that might be,” he said. . . 

Mr Jackson said there were people on the frontline who felt a strong sense of injustice but when those who have rights over land make a decision – like the deal done with Fletcher – the government had to support that.

“We understand the hurt but sometimes people, particularly our mana whenua, have got the right to make these decisions and we’re not going to say you’re wrong and get out of there. I know others are doing that but we wouldn’t be so bold or so arrogant,” he said. . .

Just a few hours later the Prime Minister was, by that definition being bold and arrogant:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed that no building will take place at Ihumātao while the government and other parties try to broker a solution. . . 

“We have heard, here, the strong voice of young people,” Ms Ardern said.

“At the same time we hear the perspective of mana whenua.

She said the government had to address that there had been an escalation and that’s why the call was made to hold off on building work.

“That activity cannot take place while there is such a large gathering there. . .

Not only is this putting the angst of protesters ahead of what mana whenua have agreed with Fletchers,  it’s a u-turn on her previous position:

Earlier this week, Ms Ardern said the government would not intervene in the issue.

“Ultimately we are falling on the side of the local iwi [who support the housing development] and their position. They are not the ones leading the protest here and so if we come in over the top, it really would be undermining the local iwi in this case,” she said on Wednesday.

By last night the show of force by protesters appears to have persuaded her to not only undermine the local iwi, but to trample all over Fletcher’s property rights.

It is also poking its nose into what is essentially a family dispute.

This was a point made by former Labour MP and  former Minister of Māori Affairs Samuel Dovers Dover Samuels who called Magic Afternoons with Sean Plunket with a stark message to politicians and media regarding Ihumātao: Stay out.

He told Sean that this is an internal matter for the family to figure out for themselves. Interference form the media and politicians has fanned the flames of this dispute, he says, “I just can’t see the involvement of any politician as being helpful.”

(Click the link above if you want to listen to the full interview).

RNZ explains the history and why Ihumātao is being occupied by protestors.

It is complex but:

. . .Earlier this year, Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority & Settlement Trust, who support the housing development, put out a statement saying:

“This piece of land within the development area will be the first time since the land confiscations of 1863 that land will be returned to mana whenua. The agreement to have this land returned to mana whenua was negotiated between Fletchers, Makaurau Marae Māori Trust and Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority. Auckland City Council was consulted during this process.”

Fletcher’s have committed to returning 25 percent (eight hectares) of the land they own to the Kiingitanga.

“Returning the land is a first for a corporate like Fletcher Building,” said Fletcher Building Residential chief executive Steve Evans.

This isn’t a Māori versus Fletcher issue – on both sides are members of the same iwi, hapū and whānau. . . 

If the issue is complex, the underlying principle is not.  Everyone, not least the government, should be respecting property rights.

This point was made by Act leader David Seymour:

. . Jacinda Ardern has legitimised unlawful behaviour by capitulating to an illegal occupation as her opening move.”

“The PM has cultivated a brand of a kinder, more inclusive politics, but some things such as occupying private property are always wrong. She has just sent the message: ‘if you occupy private property, the Government will take your side instead of protecting property rights.'”

“It appears that the Prime Minister has prevented the legal owners of land from carrying out a consented development, and offered the protesters a seat at the table.  . .

Maori property rights were ignored when the land was originally taken. Redress for that was made under a Treaty settlement.

Fletcher Building has gone beyond what is legally required in returning  25 percent of its land to the iwi. It will be building nearly 400 much-needed houses on the rest, some of which will be sold to members of the iwi.

That some think this is not good enough is no justification for the government to interfere and, in doing so, undermine Fletcher’s property rights.

Private property has, for very good reasons, been exempt from Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

Government giving way to protestors like this sets a very, very dangerous precedent that is in danger of precipitating a property rights crisis.


Apology for a team

July 23, 2014

Today’s general debate began with some apologies:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business. In the general debate this afternoon I think we should on this occasion start with apologies. I think we should start with apologies. I would like to lead off with a few apologies. * No. 1: I am sorry for being a man. Has that been done before? [Interruption] Oh, OK, I will try this one—I will try another one. I am sorry for having a holiday.

Hon Bill English: That’s been done before, too.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Oh, OK. I am sorry for wearing a red scarf. [Interruption] No. Oh, I know: I am sorry for having a moa resuscitation plan. That has got to be new—that has got to be new. [Interruption] No? Another one for you, Mr Speaker: I am sorry for having a secret trust. That would be—

Hon Bill English: No, that’s been done.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: That has been done? I am sorry for not telling you about my secret trust, Mr Speaker. Has that been done? And, most of all, Mr Speaker, I am sorry you found about my secret trust. I have another one: I am sorry for being tricky. That has been done before? Well, we have seen a lot of apologies, but from now on I am going to be straight up. I am going to stick to the Labour knitting. That is what I am going to do, with the exception of this stuff. This train is leaving the station. It has left a few times before, but this time it is definitely leaving the station. This is my team. This is my team, except, to be fair, Shane Jones. He is not on the team any more, no. Dover Samuels—he is not on the team any more. Andrew Little—he is not really on the team any more. Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene—they are not really on the team because they crossed the floor. But aside from Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, and Rino Tirikatene, this is my team.

Hon Member: What about Annette?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, actually, not Annette. She is not really on the team, either, or Phil, because they work hard. They get out in the country, working hard. Clayton is not really on the team. To be fair, I do not think he has ever been on the team. Trevor is not so much on the team—not really on the team. But, aside from Shane, Dover, Andrew, Damien, Rino, Annette, Phil, Clayton, and Trevor, this is my team. This is my team. Well, actually, you have got to exclude Grant, to be fair, because Grant is not really on my team, or David Parker—he is not on the team—or Chris Hipkins. He is not on it. I am not sure about Stuart Nash. I think he is on the team. He must be on the team because he said: “It wasn’t me.” He said in the * Hawke’s Bay Today that he denies the claim that he criticised Cunliffe, although, on the other hand, he also said this: “I must admit when I read it [the newspaper quoting the party source], apart from the swearing, it sounds a little bit like me.” “It sounded like me.”, Mr Nash said. And he said that he was not the source and that the comments could have come from “any of the 15,000 members who were out putting up hoardings in the rain or delivering pamphlets in the cold or this sort of carry-on”. So this is my team, except for Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, Rino Tirikatene, Annette King, Phil Goff, Clayton Cosgrove, Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson, David Parker, Chris Hipkins, Kelvin Davis, Stuart Nash, and the 15,000 members of the Labour Party who would have said what I did not say in the newspaper. That is my team. It is game on—it is game on. The Labour Party is marching to the election, united as a single team. That is what is going on. And, of course, we now have the regional growth policy, which we share with the Greens. The regional growth policy—here it is. It is out today. One, put a capital gains tax on every productive business. Two, have a carbon tax at five times the current price. Three, introduce big levies for the use of fresh water. Four, restore a national awards system, which would force regional employers to pay what they pay in Auckland. Five, stop any more trade deals. Six, clamp down on the dairy industry. Seven, clamp down on the oil and gas industry. And then, the coup de grâce*, , when that has all been done and the regions have all fallen over, is to give them a $200 million slush fund to make them feel better. The Labour Party should apologise for that, as well.


A cautionary tale of the fishy kind

August 31, 2008

Helen Clark ponders alone in despair

Her dearest dream’s turned into a nightmare

She thought she was popular and competent too,

But now she’s stuck knee deep in donkey do.

 

She ruled as PM which is what she desired

If anyone threatened her then they were fired

Ruth and Leanne were stood down when they failed

She couldn’t risk having her plans derailed.

 

Dover Samuels went fast and didn’t return

He was left on the back bench his lesson to learn

Phillida Bunkle, Marion Hobbs too

Were cast out from cabinet on their sins to stew.

 

She stood by BP when the first mud was thrown

But lest some spattered her, he was out on his own.

David Parker had a whoopsy so she dropped him fast

But let him come back when the danger had passed.

 

Phillip Field’s another who got into trouble

And eventually she left him alone in the rubble.

It took her a while, perhaps she was slow

But when polls started falling he had to go.

 

Harry Duynhoven, was another who went

And John Tamihere was forced to repent.

The message was clear: you falter – you fall

You’re out of cabinet if you drop the ball.

 

But she stuck with Peters through good times and bad,

Though many’s the day he’s driven her mad.

She put up with his bluster and held her tongue

When often she wished that he could be hung.

 

She draped him with baubles and stoked up his pride,

And accepted his word that he’d never lied.

Allegations have swirled but she stood aloof

Not trying too hard to seek out the truth.

 

But as the dirt that was thrown began to stick

She wanted him gone lickety split.

When all else had failed she at last told him “go”

But when you look at the facts, ‘twas only a show,

 

Portfolios passed over, the hard work he shirks.

But he’s still a Minister and keeps all the perks

Whatever was said only those two can tell,

But something has got a strong fishy smell.

 

Corruption’s a strong word, but something’s not right

As conflicting evidence comes into light.

And clinging to power is not without cost

Clark’s paid for it now with credibility lost.

 

Any day soon she’ll set a date

And voters will have in their hands her fate.

There’s still a faint chance they’ll buy her spin

And give her enough votes the election to win.

But win it or lose it one thing’s for sure

She and Winston are deep in manure.

John Key’s in the right and he’s standing strong

While Helen and Winston are left in the wrong.

 

And perhaps looking back she’ll see her mistake

In letting him of so many baubles partake.

If you sup with the devil it’s something you’ll rue

Especially if he’s supping a rotten fish stew.

 


Casualty list

August 30, 2008

Stuff has a list of Helen Clark’s ministerial casualties. The ones who have been sacked, suspended, stood down or forced to resign under her leadership since 1999 are:

June 28, 2000 – Dover Samuels

October 31, 2000 – Ruth Dyson.

February 23, 2001– Marian Hobbs and Phillida Bunkle (Alliance)

July 23, 2003 – Harry Duynhoven.

February 20, 2004 – Lianne Dalziel.

November 4, 2004 – John Tamihere

May 16, 2005 – David Benson-Pope.

October 19, 2005 – Taito Phillip Field

March 20, 2006 – David Parker.

July 27, 2007 – David Benson-Pope (again).

August 29, 2008 – Winston Peters.

If losing one minister may be regarded as a misfortune and two looks like carelessness, what can be said about losing a dozen?

The explanations for the ministerial falls from grace on Stuff is here and The Herald has photos here.


In the dock

July 31, 2008

Vernon Small puts the case for the prosecution in the trial of Peters vs the public.

Winston Raymond Peters, 63, a parliamentarian of Auckland, has appeared in the dock of public opinion demanding proof of illegality beyond reasonable doubt.

It is a standard of proof that might be appropriate in the criminal court, or perhaps he would prefer to civilly demand a standard based on the balance of probabilities. It is a standard now set by Prime Minister Helen Clark, too. Without it (or proof she has been misled) she accepts the word of “honourable members” – actually the parliamentary benchmark, which was never the political benchmark, unless it suits.

“Allegations swirling around” was once the standard by which ministers were judged and which had Dover Samuels sacked, and saw David Parker prematurely fall on his sword.

Miss Clark’s defence of inaction now must be that any hypocrisy on Mr Peters’ part relates to his role as NZ First leader, not his role as foreign affairs, racing and associate senior citizens minister, because it is impossible to believe that, say, Mr Parker, as Energy Minister, would survive if he claimed the legal right to have his lights blazing all night while calling for others to save power.

But because of MMP and the need for his support, Peters will not be treated as the other Minsiters were.

But “nothing illegal” is not a standard of accountability the media, the public or other politicians have ever set for politicians anywhere, particularly those who, like Mr Peters, will not address serious and specific questions as openly as they can.

It is as if he will not face accountability for himself – or apology, or contrition, or just putting the record straight, even when it is damaging his reputation as the scourge of the unaccountable.

But perhaps Miss Clark is waiting and biding her time. Waiting for the various estimates votes to pass this week and next. As money supply issues they are the last implied confidence and supply votes this side of the election. Biding her time to judge whether she is better to go into the election having disciplined Mr Peters, or as the defender of her deal with him. (Yes, National has not ruled out a deal with him, either, but Mr Key’s party also voted en masse for the so-called anti-smacking bill. And guess who is getting all the public backlash?)

But what if the public has been misled by believing a politician who claimed one set of rules for others over donations and disclosure and use of secret trusts, and has another for himself?

In other words, who is now saying: “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”

MPs are not allowed to utter the ‘h’ word in the house but this is hypocrisy.

Now, I should say I have never taken it personally when Mr Peters has attacked the media, and I have always been treated courteously and fairly by him – though often frustratingly evasively, too.

However, on this occasion, abusing the media for raising substantive questions – which only Mr Peters can answer or cause to be answered – just does not cut it.

Nor does a favourite tactic of Mr Peters: elevating valid questions to the level of accusations and allegations and then demanding they be “proved”…

When it comes to avoiding answers, the man is a legend.

There are signs in his behaviour in the past week that he is beginning to believe his own legend, that all he has to do is bluster, attack the messenger and flash his smile to rise above any and all allegations, even those of hypocrisy. He cannot and he has not…

Of course, the trust fund, and Mr Peters’ refusal to engage with any questions about it, is not an issue of ministerial responsibility but is one of his own credibility with his supporters – but still an area of legitimate interest to the media.

Not accusations, but legitimate questions that deserve answers from an elected representative so the jury in the court of public opinion can come to a verdict.

Until he does the verdict is guilty of both arrogance and hypocriy, neither of which is a crime but nor are they acceptable behaviour for a Minister.

[Keeping Stock gives the verdict from another court of public opinion here]


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