10 Mar 2011

Failure to vote on bill 'embarrassing' for Harawira

1:30 pm on 10 March 2011

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says it is embarrassing for Hone Harawira that he failed to cast his vote after a debate on the Marine and Coastal Area Bill.

The bill replaces the controversial Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 and restores the right of Maori iwi and hapu to seek customary title through the courts.

The MP for Te Tai Tokerau quit the Maori Party in February after weeks of in-fighting over his criticisms of the party's support of the National Government and its backing of the bill.

However, he was not in the debating chamber when it came time to vote on the bill on Tuesday.

Mrs Turia says it is ironic Mr Harawira was given a speaking slot in Parliament by the Labour Party, as he opposed its 2004 law.

She says it says something that he was not in Parliament when it came time to vote.

"You're either genuine and you're here to represent a particular viewpoint and as such you're here to cast a vote saying that you support that viewpoint."

The bill passed its second reading by 62 votes to 56, with the support of the National, Maori and United Future parties.

MP 'forgot' to vote

Mr Harawira released a statement late on Tuesday headed "Oops - forgot to vote".

He said he put a lot of energy into his speech to the House on the bill and was glad he got to relate the views he has been picking up on around the country.

However, Mr Harawira says he got caught up in a meeting and forgot to vote. Now he is an independent MP, he says, he will have to be much more focused.

Mr Harawira says there is still the committee stage and third reading of the bill to be held, so there is plenty of time to fix it up.

Bill fails to deliver justice - Northland leader

A Northland Maori leader says the Marine and Coastal Area Bill fails to deliver the justice that tangata whenua had hoped for.

Ngati Hine chair Waihoroi Shortland says the bill's deficiencies will become clear as Maori test it to try to establish their customary rights.

Mr Shortland says the bill seeks to appease pakeha anxieties about Maori blocking access to beaches, when in fact almost all the people who do exclude others from the foreshore are pakeha.

He says when Maori seek to exercise rights to the marine area it is considered racist, but when pakeha do the same they are considered to be exercising their lawful property rights.