Chris Finlayson’s blather gives Alf a serious dose of the shits, on occasions.
Question Time in Parliament yesterday was yet another occasion.
Questioned in his role as Attorney-General about some Maori howz-your-father in the Far North, the bugger did his damndest to avoid denouncing the ratbags involved.
But denunciation was especially in order on this occasion, because two of the ratbags should have been in jail (for a considerable time) for roughing up our Prime Minister at Waitangi.
Alf would have jailed them for a few decades, then deported them to the land of their ancestors, which he believes is Hawaiki.
But the justice system let us down badly on that score, and now the Popata brothers are up to their tricks again.
They are part of an occupation of a patch of publicly owned land in the Far North to which their iwi lays claim.
They have the backing of Margaret Mutu, the professor who has a thing about spooks and is keen to protect pregnant and menstruating women from the spirits that reside in museum relics.
A strong Government would have done something to uphold the ownership of the local council.
Labour’s David Parker asked in Parliament: Why has the Government not done more to deal with the occupation of the Taipā Point public reserve by foreshore and seabed protesters?
Alf hoped to hear that the Government was amassing a force of troops with orders to move in on the occupiers and shoot if they did not immediately surrender.
He was disappointed.
Finlayson said the protest on Taipā Point public reserve was happening on the dry land reserve owned by the Far North District Council, and –
It is for the council to serve a trespass notice on the occupiers. This could then be enforced by the police, or the council could apply to the court for an injunction, as happened recently in the Coromandel region. Ministers cannot direct the police on operational matters. I refer the member to section 16(2) of the Policing Act 2008. It is also not for central government to interfere in the operational affairs of local government.
Alf’s bowels began to twitch.
Things got no better.
Hon David Parker: Given the assurance that the Attorney-General offered to a public meeting at Taipā recently, why has his Government not acted to help the council and the local community enforce the law at Taipā?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: I gave a number of assurances at Taipā. They included my willingness to consult with the people up there, quite apart from the select committee process currently under way, and my assurance to ensure that any legalisation restored access to justice and respected property rights—two points that the audience certainly recognised.
But wait. There’s more.
Hon David Parker: Is it true that senior local government representatives have personally asked both him and the Prime Minister for help to enforce the rule of law at Taipā, and why have both of them left the local council to deal with the problem alone?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: A number of people have contacted me. I do not know that they are necessarily senior members of the local council, but certainly people who were in the audience at my public meeting at Taipā have expressed concerns. As to what the Government is doing, I have already said, in my answer to the primary question, exactly what the appropriate course of action is. I am sure the member does not want me to start issuing directions that would contravene the Policing Act or interfere in the affairs of local government.
In short, the Government is doing nothing.
Then came another zinger:
Hon David Parker: Does the Attorney-General accept that the false expectation his Government and the Māori Party have created around the foreshore and seabed has fed the aggressive behaviour of the protesters at Taipā?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: No, I think that is an absolutely ridiculous proposition. Both the Māori Party and National are concerned about two things—restoration of the right of access to justice, and property rights—and I would suggest that the actions of a few miscreants should not be allowed to get in the way of a principled debate on those two very important issues. The Foreshore and Seabed Act is disgraceful legislation and needs to be repealed.
Oooh. By now poor old Alf was gauging the distance between his seat in the chamber and the seat of the nearest bog.
Hilary Calvert: Why will the Government not refuse to proceed with Ngāti Kahu’s Treaty settlement until their representatives are prepared to obey the rule of law and cease their trespass and occupation?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Ngāti Kahu has a longstanding Treaty grievance, and it is my responsibility as Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations to negotiate a just and durable settlement. A very odd proposition, in my view, seems to be implicit in that question—that the actions of a few should condemn an entire iwi.
Bearing in mind the endorsement the occupation has been given by Ngati Kahu leader Margaret Mutu – then why not?
Here’s what we learn from the Northern Advocate –
Earlier this year Ngati Kahu was one of five Far North iwi to sign an Agreement in Principle – the final step before reaching a settlement with the Crown – even though the deal did not include the land at Taipa.
Professor Mutu said the iwi signed on condition that it was not a full and final settlement, but the next generation would pursue the rest of the land.
The Popata brothers staging the occupation at Taipa Pt reserve were “part of that next generation”, she said.
The critical thing is that the Far North District Council maintains it is the legal owner of the reserve.
Just a few hours before Parker put his questions to the squirmy Attorney-General, the democratically elected far north mayor was thrown off the Taipā public reserve.
Alf accordingly is bothered that the Popata gang regard the occupation of the council reserve as a model of how New Zealand could be if the foreshore and seabed were returned to Maori ownership.
Wikatana Popata, who is leading the occupation with his brother, John Junior, says everyone is free to keep using the Taipa Pt reserve in Doubtless Bay and its popular boat ramp.
But they want people to ask permission first and respect the land and sea.
They also want to spread the message that the land, Maheatai, was taken from their iwi, Ngati Kahu, and say they will not leave until it is returned.
Anyone willing to listen is welcomed into the campground for a cup of tea or coffee.
But not the mayor, eh?
Dunno if there were many more questions on the matter.
Before the issue was done with, Alf had had to make his dash for the gents.
He now must explain to his mates at the Eketahuna Club how come the Government can change the law under urgency to save the hobbits but not to uphold the right of a mayor to visit a park in his own area of governance.