Bob won’t press on with his monorail project but iwi leaders can play the treaty card

Alf is wondering today what might have happened if Bob Robertson could wave the Treaty of Waitangi in support of his proposal to run a monorail through the Fiordland National Park.

As we all now know, the proposal has been scuttled by the government.

And Robertson has said he will not appeal against the decision or pursue any legal action.

He has taken it on the chin, after Conservation Minister Nick Smith turned down the application for the $240 million project, saying it didn’t stack up economically or environmentally.

Bob Robertson from Riverstone Holdings spent $5 million and ten years working on the project.

He said the way the Minister reviewed the financial aspect of the monorail was flawed, and he had given specific guarantees the project could be funded and completed.

“I am devastated, because I thought we’d passed all the milestones that were needed. It’s pretty disappointing, because it’s going to negatively impact on what could have been something fantastic for New Zealand tourism.”

He also said he would now let the matter rest, although he warned that other developers may be scared off by the decision and it sent the wrong message about investing in New Zealand.

Alf supposes Robertson is not an indigenous person who can play the treaty card.

That’s not the case with about 60 iwi chairs who are limbering up to discuss the legislation that ensures foreign-owned fishing vessels in New Zealand waters adopt this country’s safety and labour laws by May 2016.

Alf is thoroughly in support of this legislation, which aims to stop maltreatment and low payment of crews on foreign charter vessels.

Some critics of the way things are done now call it slavery.

And that’s the way our indigenous people would like to keep it – at least for another few years.

They want to play the treaty card that entitles them to special treatment so they can be exempted from the legislation. Temporarily, anyway.

Iwi fisheries with treaty settlement quota initially had a four-year extension to adopt the rules but the Government has scrapped that.

Ngati Kahungunu authority chair Ngahiwi Tomoana said the move would diminish iwi fisheries settlement by between 20 and 30 percent.

He said the new rules would damage Maori economies and was a modern breach of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Obviously the new rules won’t do non-Maori economies a helluva lot of good – not those that are involved in the fishing lark, anyway.

But unlike iwi leaders, non-Maori fishing folk can’t dust off a treaty that was signed away back in 1840.

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