'PC is alive and well' - marine forum member dismissed over newsletter

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy dismissed Nelson Cross from the South-East Marine Protection Forum. Bay of Plenty Times Photograph by John Borren.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy dismissed Nelson Cross from the South-East Marine Protection Forum. Bay of Plenty Times Photograph by John Borren.

A member of a marine protection forum has been sacked after authoring a newsletter that said Maori discovered "the joys of sedentary living while on a benefit" after Europeans arrived.

Nelson Cross this week received an email from the office of Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy informing him of his dismissal from the South-East Marine Protection Forum.

That came after Cross, a retired engineer and recreational fishing advocate, sent out a newsletter in which he detailed the history of fishing regulations.

It included comments that Maori exterminated and ate the first inhabitants of New Zealand before discovering "KFC and the TAB and the joys of sedentary living while on a benefit" when Europeans arrived, Fairfax reported.

Cross, who lives in Balclutha, also described early European settlers as "mainly drunkards, womanisers, layabouts, escaped convicts and ratbags of the first order", and wrote that problems arose after Europeans realised money could be made from commercial fishing.

"Here [Maori] said, 'that is our fish. We were here first (mumble apart from one or two others mumble). Give us our share so we can lease it out to foreigners and not have to go to work and still get the benefit. Youse white buggers owe it to us cos it sez so in te tiriti,'" Fairfax reported.

Cross told the Herald he meant no offence by the newsletter. The controversial comments were from a newsletter he wrote about six years ago.

"I was writing another newsletter that included comment about what's been happening around the area, and I was a bit short on ideas and time, so I just bunged that one in from five or six years ago. And it was out to a select group."

Cross said he wouldn't do the same again, given the reaction.

"Because PC is alive and well. I mean I've got a lot of Maori friends, none of them were offended. I think I have been a bit of a thorn for awhile and they [the Government] have taken the opportunity to get rid of me."

The South-East Marine Protection Forum was established in 2014 by the Minister of Conservation and Minister for Primary Industries with the aim of "working towards meeting the Government objective of providing protection for each marine habitat type in the south-east region".

Cross had been on the forum for two and a half years, and said he was proud of his long record advocating for recreational fishers.

"I was at a fishing meeting last night...and I got a standing ovation, basically. So I can look back and my integrity is still whole, I don't believe that I have compromised that at all.

"It [the newsletter] was lampooning everybody that was involved - the Government down to the recreational fishers themselves. And it was an entirely different matter from the forum."

- NZ Herald

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