Finlayson ready to forgo holiday to battle 'clowns'

By Audrey Young

Chris Finlayson. Photo / Hawkes Bay Today
Chris Finlayson. Photo / Hawkes Bay Today

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson says he would willingly give up his summer holiday to hold more public meetings countering claims by the "clowns" in the Coastal Coalition over the foreshore and seabed repeal bill.

He has been back on the road this week speaking at public meetings and private National Party meetings in Napier, Taupo and Te Kowhai near Hamilton.

"I'll be out on the road any time that suits folk," he said yesterday. " If need be, I'll flag my holiday - I don't give a stuff about that. I'm not going to be beaten by these clowns.

"I'm not going to be beaten by people who think the Phoenicians and Vikings were here first. This was [supposedly] a veritable crossroads of the ancient world. Phoenicians were here, Celts, Vikings, you name it, they were all here except for the Maori."

His reference to pre-Maori arrivals is not Coastal Coalition policy, but a member, former Act MP Muriel Newman, has suggested there is truth to the claims.

She wrote on her website: "Claims have been made that New Zealand was discovered from as early as 600BC by Phoenician, Indian, Greek and Arab explorers. In fact, claims of these visits help to explain the existence in the South Island of the fossilised remains of rats that have been carbon dated at 160BC - more than 1000 years before Maori."

The notion of pre-Maori arrivals reinforces opposition to Maori as holders of first peoples' rights - such as customary title in the foreshore and seabed.

The Coastal Coalition has organised a series of newspaper advertisements attacking Mr Finlayson's foreshore and seabed repeal bill, the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill.

The ad of 33 questions and answers features a picture of Prime Minister John Key wearing a feather cloak and holding a tino rangatiratanga flag and is headed: "He's about to trade 2000km of your coastline for a resource he values more. Maori Party votes."

Mr Finlayson has issued the coalition's Q and A with his own comments on many of the assertions.

Click here to read his response to the Q and A.

Mr Finlayson said the views of the Coastal Coalition were "profoundly sickening".

"They can't beat me on the intellectual argument. They are not going to beat me on this other front either."

Mr Finlayson held many public meetings after the ministerial review of the law was released and before the bill was drafted.

He said the three main issues he was addressing in his meetings this week covered the notion that the bill did not deliver "one law for all", the ability of ministers to negotiate foreshore and seabed deals with iwi, rather than going through the courts, and the meaning of customary title.

"I also explain what the common marine coastal area was and that it is not all that different a concept to what [United Future leader] Peter Dunne was talking about in 2003 about public domain."

He said people had forgotten the background and why 50,000 people had marched in 2003 and 2004 - "because they were denied access to justice".

"I think there are a few iwi who have forgotten that as well."

Mr Finlayson had directly addressed the grievance over access to justice, but people such as Ngai Tahu's Mark Solomon then decided that they had "moved on from there".

He said he was happy to get out on the road because it was important to rebut the Coastal Coalition's "mistruths".

"I just want to make sure that the legitimate concerns of people are addressed. However you cannot address the concerns of paranoids."

- NZ Herald

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