Saturday, January 3, 2015
Mike Butler: Coastal claim stuns bach owners
Around 120 bach owners and claimants crammed the Mokotahi Hall at Mahia 187km north of Napier at 4pm yesterday to hear Hugh Barr of the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand explain how the Marine and Coastal Area Act 2011 opened up the entire coastal area to claim by tribal groups.
Activist Pauline Tangiora, who was at the meeting with her legal counsel Leo Watson, lodged a claim for title to an area covering 100km around the Mahia Peninsula from near Whareongaonga in the north to the Nuhaka River mouth in the west running from the high tide mark out 22km to New Zealand’s territorial limit on behalf of her Rongomaiwahine group.
It is expected to contain “wahi tapu” areas allegedly sacred to Maori.
Mr Barr told the sometimes-rowdy meeting that from 1840 to 2011 New Zealand’s foreshore and seabed was owned by the Crown on behalf of all New Zealanders as a public common, available to everyone.
This all changed in 2011 when Prime Minister John Key gave away public ownership of the coastal area to buy the parliamentary support of the Maori Party by passing the Marine and Coastal Area Act, Barr said.
Disregarding 174 years of settled law, the Act allows a coastal tribe to gain customary marine title if they can show that they have exclusively occupied and used the foreshore and seabed since 1840.
Customary marine title gives successful claimants the right to veto many structures and activities in their area so they can charge fees for use of current and new slipways, wharves, aquaculture areas, marinas, and gain exclusive mining rights to iron-sand and minerals in the area.
More than 80 signed up after Barr asked for statements to prove that the Rongomaiwahine group has not had exclusive use and occupation there by showing where and when they too had swum, fished, boated, and walked the beach without restriction.
Tangiora’s lawyer Watson, who advertises himself as experienced in indigenous law including Treaty of Waitangi claims, Maori land, compulsory acquisition and public works, administrative law, fisheries, traditional knowledge and intellectual property, appeared to try to take over the meeting when he stood up to speak while reluctant to identify himself.
Some tried to shout him down while others demanded that he be heard until someone suggested that “as a lawyer Mr Watson won’t lie” making the crowd roar with laughter.
Four other coastal claims are in progress.
The biggest claim is that by Ngati Porou – a claim for about 200km of the coast north of Gisborne. Specifically this stretches from the Pouawa Stream, just north of Gisborne, all the way up to East Cape and around it for some distance to Potikirua, west of Lottin Point. This tribe is also claiming ownership of the seabed out to three nautical miles.
The Ngati Pahauwera tribe is claiming customary title over about 30km of coastline either side of the mouth of the Mohaka River, between Wairoa and Napier.
There are two separate areas of the Coromandel coast that are part of a single claim by Ngati Porou ki Hauraki. The first of these covers a large triangle of coast, sea and islands. The coast that is under threat by this claim extends from Waikawau Bay, down to and including Kennedy Bay and out as far as Anareke Point. It stretches out to sea and includes Cuvier Island and the Mercury Islands.
The second piece of the Coromandel Coast up for tribal grab under this claim stretches from Otonga Point, south of the coastal settlement of Whiritoa, itself south of Whangamata, down the coast through Mataora Bay to the northern edge of Horokawa, and extending 3.5 km out to sea, off Mayor Island.
at 9:39 AM