Wed, May 12th, 7.30pm, Trades Hall, 147 Great North

Chaired by Peter Williams QC.

Guest Speaker Rev Ron Givens. Ron is a prison chaplain from California and is the Political Director of UNION (United for No  Injustice, Oppression orNeglect). UNION campaigns... against  California’sthree strikes policy of minimum sentences similar to those  proposed here byACT. Ron will talk about the horrendous situation in California’s jails and the serious injustices caused by the three strikes policy.


Whanau ora

By John Minto


The Maori Party has been a huge disappointment and Whanau ora will likely be its biggest failure.

The party was formed amid well justified anger and frustration at the Labour government’s panicky move to legislate across Maori rights to have claims to the foreshore and seabed heard in the Maori Land Court.

The break with Labour had happened before. Back in the 1990s Maori voters sided briefly with Winston Peters before his New Zealand First party was decimated under coalition pressure from National.

The Maori Party injected fresh energy into Maori aspirations via MPs with no previous parliamentary baggage such as Pita Sharples, Hone Harawira and Te Ururoa Flavell. However for such a race-based party the danger was always there that they would lose sight of the wood for the trees. And so they have. The party is fixated on improving things for Maori but at the same time endangering provision of services for people in low income communities who themselves are disproportionately Maori.

This approach was highlighted in the bizarre story last month of the Maori Party signing up to an ACT-driven working group report which is asking the government to consider extending so-called education “choice” for children from low income communities. This would increase opportunities for a tiny number of children at the expense of the majority who would suffer by further reduced state responsibility for the quality of education in our schools.

With Whanau Ora we have a similar approach with the aim to benefit struggling Maori families which National will use to undermine state provision of social services and open the sector for the damages and ravages of privatisation. Maori will be the predominant losers.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia sees Whanau Ora as her own and the Maori Party’s crowning achievement in coalition in this parliamentary term. She seems content to fossick around at the bottom of the cliff picking up the pieces of dysfunctional families while even more victims of government policies pile up around her.

Feeling good at the bottom of the cliff is no substitute for tackling the hard stuff at the top where free-market economic policies create the carnage.

Maori families don’t need big state intervention in their lives. Neither does anyone in a low-income community. I have huge faith in all families to be able to make their own way in the world without big government or a welfare system designed not so much as a safety net but as a minimalist drip-feed to take the heat out of opposition to the catastrophic failure of 30 years of neo-liberal economic policies.

Instead of quality jobs, self respect and self reliance, the free market has delivered to low income communities thousands of pokie machines, endless liquor outlets, loan sharks on every corner and fast-food joints by the bucketful alongside social devastation and destroyed families. Whanau Ora aims to ease the negative effects of the market on families without having the insight to address the problems at their source.

What the party has failed to grasp is that economic policies drive communities. Once a government has decided its economic direction what follows in health, education, welfare or employment is essentially predetermined.

And so instead of tackling the big issues – government policies to provide jobs for everyone while abolishing the dole for example – the Maori Party is content to play Florence Nightingale to the victims of Labour and National policies.

Why on earth would a party set their sights so low?

Even in its lady-of-the-lamp role the Maori Party will struggle to make any meaningful difference. It will bring a few benefits to some families by helping rationalize social services but basing welfare provision for Maori families on Maori concepts will mean little change for anyone until economic policy is based on the same principles. As it stands the best we can hope for from Whanau Ora will be in helping some families devise bunkers to help weather economic storms.

There will also be many families within Maoridom who will resist Whanau Ora. Expect to see welfare refugees seeking respite from attempts by well-meaning Whanau Ora advocates trying to patch up deeply fractured families.

I’ve seen similar attitudes many times working in schools in low income areas where many Maori families see themselves as having greater common cause with their European, Pacific and migrant neighbours and friends than with a distant iwi to which they have no connection.

The Maori Party engagement with National was never going to end in happiness.

It won’t be till the party engages in a serious economic challenge to National and Labour that it will make a significant difference for Maori families.


Police run operations on political activists in NZ

 A recent document released under the Official Information Act (OIA) shows that the Police are heavily spying on and running operations on protest groups. In the Police annual report for the year ending 30th June 2009, a reference was made to “84 operation orders” made in relation to “public demonstrations”. An OIA request for a list of all these operation orders made in October 2009 has now finally been answered by Police National Headquarters and the results are chilling.

In 2008/9, the police ran operations on a “Tibet candlelight vigil”, the “Stagecoach Bus Strike” and a “Palestine Peace Vigil” in Wellington, a “Bible group” outside the US embassy, the “Waterside Workers' Strike” in Auckland and a protest in Otahuhu “re lack of swimming pool”.

A list of the 84 operation orders has been released. However, access to the actual orders has so far been denied.
Peace Action Wellington condemns the action of the NZ Police in conducting operations on protests against the annual weapons conference hosted by the NZ Defence Industry Association and against legitimate political dissent. ‘Protecting these people is protecting war mongers and war profiteers from public disgust, outrage and resistance to their activities’ said Valerie Morse, Peace Action member. ‘In my experience, the police see their role as shutting down protests, and they will do whatever is necessary in order to accomplish that, including extensive surveillance, arbitrary arrest and detention of people without any cause whatsoever.' Continue reading article here



Anti Racism Demo-Melbourne

Some racist idiots planned a demo today at Flinder Street Station. 500 anti-racism activists rocked up to meet them. They didn't show. :-)



‘The test of whether any rights regime for Indigenous Peoples is just or unjust is quite simple – does it recognise an equality of rights and restore what has been taken, or does it assert something else?’
-        Kawaipuna Prejean, Hawaiian intervention at the 1991 sitting of the United Nations Working Group on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This Primer has been prepared as part of the ongoing discussion in Ngāti Kahungunu about the foreshore and seabed issue, and in particular the Crown consultation document on the repeal of the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act.
It is hoped that it might be of value to others who wish to engage in the discussions and participate in the consultation process with the Crown.
It canvasses some of the main points in the Crown proposals and attempts to relate them to the issues Māori have raised on the subject since 2003.
The Iwi Leaders’ Group has released a detailed commentary on the Crown document and this Primer necessarily addresses some similar issues. However it also focuses on others to determine whether they in fact recognise an equality of rights for Māori and restore what has been taken, or whether they assert something else.
It acknowledges that the document does have positive features in accepting that the current situation in regard to the foreshore and seabed has been both unacceptable and inequitable to Māori. However whether it is a ‘sophisticated’ or ‘elegant’ solution as the government claims is another question because ‘elegance’ is rarely the same as ‘fair’ or ‘just’.
On that basis there are several areas in the Crown proposals which need some ‘improvement’ as the Iwi Leaders’ Group has stated, and several which need to be elaborated upon further.
However of perhaps more importance is the fact that the Crown’s preferred option for resolving the issue is conceptually flawed – it is based on certain presumptions, both political and legal, which limit the chance for substantive improvement and therefore also limit the possibility that any resolution will actually promote an equality of rights.
It is obvious that the issue is an intensely political one but politics or political expediency should never preclude justice. Neither should they damage the relationship between the Crown and Iwi and Hapu that was envisaged in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The 2004 legislation did both.
This Primer is based on the belief that there is no need to repeat those mistakes.

-       Moana Jackson.

What is positive about the Consultation Document?
It clearly commits to three main changes –
1.     The repeal of the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act.
2.     The restoration of rights which that Act tried to remove.
3.     The restoration of due process. That is restoring the right of those who wish to go to court on this matter to do so.
Does it suggest anything to replace the 2004 Act once it is repealed?
It suggests four possible options to regulate the use and protection of the Foreshore and Seabed.
It also suggests in some detail the sort of ‘customary rights and title’ Maori might be entitled to under its preferred option.
What are these options?
1.     To fully vest the Foreshore and Seabed in the Crown.
2.     To create a radical title for the Crown in the Foreshore and Seabed – that is, the right to regulate subject to Iwi and Hapu rights.
3.     To vest full ownership of the Foreshore and Seabed in Maori.
4.     To create a ‘No ownership’ regime based on a public domain or takiwa iwi whanui.
What is the Crown’s preferred option?
The ‘No ownership’ regime.
What does this mean?
It is not clear what the notion of public domain would entail but the concept of ‘No ownership’ poses real conceptual difficulties, the most important of which are –
1.     In tikanga terms whenua has to belong to somebody just as tangata whenua have to belong to the whenua.  The notion of not belonging (or not being ‘owned’ in the document’s language) is a diminishment of the relationship Iwi and Hapu have with the whenua and therefore of whakapapa itself.
2.     In terms of Pākehā law it appears to revive the discredited colonising legal doctrine of terra nullius or ‘the empty land’ which once allowed colonisers to take indigenous lands simply by saying there were no people there.
The difficulties were recently highlighted when a leading barrister commented, not entirely jokingly, that if no-one owned the foreshore it was technically ‘empty’ and someone else could come along and take it, just as colonisers have always done.

Are there any other difficulties with the ‘No ownership’ regime?
The idea is also problematic if not deceitful because while the Crown suggests no owner it actually retains for itself a right to control and manage the Foreshore and Seabed that in reality amounts to ownership. 
Indeed the document makes no reference to repealing the many statutes which have already been passed to vest ownership in the Crown.
The government has made it clear for example that it will continue to control whatever ‘nationalised minerals’ might exist in the Foreshore and Seabed.  Those minerals are petroleum, gold, silver, and uranium.  The document makes no clear reference to other ‘non-nationalised’ minerals.
The ‘No ownership’ concept is problematic in another way because it essentially gives the Crown the right to determine whatever Maori ‘customary rights’ might flow from the regime because they will necessarily be subject to, or have to be exercised in relation to existing statutory authorities.  Indeed that right to define is akin to the right of an owner to decide what may or may not happen on a particular piece of land.
Are these ‘customary rights’ the rights Iwi and Hapu define according to tikanga?
They are rights which Maori may have used since ‘time immemorial’ but they are actually constrained within the colonising doctrine of aboriginal rights or title. They are therefore a ‘burden’ on whatever authority the colonising power has assumed but they are also able to be extinguished or removed if the Crown decides to do so through legislation or some other means.
The document specifically retains this right of extinguishment. For example it notes that if a customary right has not been exercised because it has been extinguished by the Crown, even in breach of ‘Treaty principles,’ it stays extinguished unless the Waitangi Tribunal recommends otherwise.
The result is that the ‘customary rights and title’ are lesser rights than those enjoyed by others. They are not tikanga-defined or controlled but are rights that one famous Court case described as ‘diminished’ and ‘necessarily dependent’ on the whim of the Crown.
How then would the rights be established if the ‘No ownership’ proposal goes ahead?
The Consultation Document says there are different territorial or title rights and non-territorial or use rights.
They may be recognised either through a court case (the restoration of due process) or through direct negotiation between the Crown and a particular Iwi or Hapu.

As a general rule Iwi and Hapu will have to establish the rights by proving –
1.     They have been continuously exercised without interruption since 1840
2.     They apply to foreshore continuously occupied without interruption since 1840.
3.     They have not been extinguished.
Are these requirements any different to the 2004 Act?
Not really.
They effectively retain what may be called a ‘Crown wins’ test because most Iwi and Hapu have been prevented from continuously exercising them by Crown actions since 1840.
The only possible difference is a suggestion that the Crown may decide it has to prove it extinguished the right rather than Iwi and Hapu having to prove it wasn’t removed, but no firm commitment has been made in that regard.
What ‘customary rights or title’ are then available?
Very few.
They include such things as
-       Protection of certain ‘customary activities’.
-       Ability to prepare a ‘Planning document’ to be considered by local bodies in their District Plans and applications under the Resource Management Act.
-       Ability to grant or withhold permission under ‘customary title’ for activities requiring a resource consent from a local body.
Do Iwi or Hapu with these titles have to guarantee public access?
Yes, and Maori have always of course agreed to do so.
However there is a fundamental inequality in this requirement because others with freehold title to land on the foreshore do not need to grant access. It is only Maori with a ‘diminished’ title over a tiny piece of the foreshore who have to do so while those who control over 80% of it do not.
Can the other options be considered?
Technically yes, although the government is clear about its preferred option. Indeed it has said if Maori do not accept it the 2004 Act will remain in place.
That seems an unfair threat and hardly a good basis for a proper Treaty-based resolution.
Yet there are other possibilities that will address the concerns many people have while allowing a resolution for Maori that will recognise an equality of rights and restore what has been taken rather than assert something else as the current option does.


Rally Against Racism


Heya All,

This Rally is organised in opposition to the
"Mass Rally Against Immigration and Islam"
called by some racist fools at 12:30 pm.

We want to be there to let them know that their hatred is not welcome in our city.

Good news. Heaps of people are responding to this rally and it looks like we'll have a big crowd. As this rally has been called at such short notice, we're still awaiting confirmation from guest speakers, but there'll be comedians from the Comedy Festival, Church leaders, unionists, musos and others adding their voices to supporting diversity on the day.

If you wanna help make make this event massive, there's a few things you can do:

1. Download & print at least 1 copy of this black & white poster and put a copy up in your workplace, your library, church or local cafe (or download 100 and put them up everywhere)

2. Share a link to this page to all your FB friends, even out of town ones.

3. Officially let your organisations, be they cultural, union, church or whatever, know about this.

4. Post the event to any newsgroups you're a member of

5. Bring your friends & family and make a fun day of it!

Let's grow this thing real fast!


Prison Industrial Complex

By Diego Hernandez   Chapter 1: The US Prison Crises Chapter 2: Interviews with political prisoners Angela Davis, Mumia Abu Jamal, Assata Shakur Chapter 3: The War on Drugs and its effects on people of color. Chapter 4: Immigration Detention Centers and Latin@s in prison. Chapter 5: The Privatisation of Prisons for profit. Chapter 6: Women in Priso