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Pakeha / Tauiwi Open Letter to MPs on
the foreshore and seabed legislation


4 May 2004

To all Labour, Progressive Coalition, and New Zealand First Members of Parliament,

As the foreshore and seabed hikoi moves towards Wellington, we the undersigned Pakeha / Tauiwi add our voices to those of Ngati Kahungunu and others who are opposed to the foreshore and seabed legislation.

We support the hikoi, and all peaceful protest by Maori acting to protect what is rightfully theirs.

The foreshore and seabed legislation is a confiscation, no different than the confiscations inflicted by colonial administrations in the nineteenth century. The harm caused by those past confiscations has been acknowledged in recent years, apologies have been made, and settlements have been negotiated in recognition of those historical injustices. Repeating the mistakes of the past cannot be a productive way forward.

Furthermore, the legislation violates basic human rights including the right of access to, and protection of, the law; the right to own property and not be arbitrarily deprived of it; the right to freedom from racial discrimination; the right to enjoy one's own culture; the right to development; and the right to self-determination.

The legislation is a serious breach of Articles II and III of the Treaty of Waitangi.

It is a violation of domestic law including the Bill of Rights Act and Human Rights Act; and of international human rights standards and conventions including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It clearly goes against developing international human rights law with respect to the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, as articulated for example in General Recommendation XXIII of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

We do not agree with your claims that the legislation is in the best interest of all New Zealanders - clearly it is not in the best interests of Maori, nor do we consider it to be in our best interests. If passed, it will be a source of serious conflict and justified grievance into the future. As well, your readiness to violate the basic human rights of one group of New Zealanders is threatening to us all.

We endorse the stand taken by those few Labour Members of Parliament who are opposing the foreshore and seabed legislation.

We call on you to vote against this inherently unfair, unjust and unnecessary legislation. Its fundamental flaws are clearly outlined in the Waitangi Tribunal WAI 1071 Report. We urge you to read the Report and to follow the Tribunalís "primary and strong" recommendation - go back to the drawing board and engage in proper negotiations with Maori about the way forward.

If you follow this path, you will be remembered by future generations as someone who stood against this gross travesty of justice and who acted with integrity to ensure a peaceful future for us all.

The deadline for signing the copy of the Open Letter to MPs, has now passed. Thank you to everyone who signed. We will however continue to add details of people who wish to sign to this web page - if you would like to add your name, occupation / position and organisation (optional), and town or city above, please send a message to pma@xtra.co.nz with those details.

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