Don’t say no to the Maori Spectrum Coalition – not until you’ve heard where radio came from

Some of Alf’s mates in the Eketahuna Club got a bit antsy on learning that a Maori group is considering taking a civil case against the Crown in its fight for rights to the radio spectrum.

The news came from Radio New Zealand (here).

The background is that their claim to a portion of a broadcasting band that will soon be available has been rejected by your widely admired Government.

Instead we will auction off the technology that will be used for a more efficient generation of mobile phones.

Inevitably, this decision will be grist to the mill of the legal profession and give the Waitangi Tribunal something more to do.

It could give our judges something to think about, too.

The Maori Spectrum Coalition will ask the Waitangi Tribunal to hear its claim but the group is also assessing whether it should take a case through the courts.

Coalition member Antony Royal said Treaty partners won’t settle for a ‘no’ from the Government.

He said, if the issue is not resolved this generation, there are plenty of people lining up to take on the fight.

Mr Royal said the problem is not being solved by saying no.

Alf’s mates see nothing wrong with a government and its agencies saying “no”.

They have suffered their own rebuffs, for example when trying to lighten their tax burden by trying to claim this, that or the other.

They complain they cannot then turn to the Waitangi Tribunal.

Moreover, they reckon it’s a bit much for Maori to be laying claim to a bit of the radio spectrum, because no such thing existed at the time of the signing of the treaty.

Your hard-working member has had to disabuse them.

A Maori of Alf’s acquaintance long ago explained to him that a bloke called Maakaungi [marˈkoːni] was the father of long- distance radio transmission, lauded for his development of something we Pakeha call Marconi’s law and a radio telegraph system. This Maakaungi feller (sorry, his whakapapa has slipped your MP’s memory) is often credited as the inventor of radio.

Through some shameful bit of confidence trickery, an Italian bloke with a similar-sounding name finished up sharing the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun “in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy”.

Knowing this history, Alf has no problem with the latest claim to a chunk of the spectrum. His mates remain to be convinced of the validity of it.

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