Magazine article New Zealand Management

Seabed Committee Who's Who

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Seabed Committee Who's Who

Article excerpt

Any day now Parliament's Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation select committee will call for submissions on the Government's Foreshore and Seabed Bill, the prospect of which brought a hikoi of around 20,000 howling protestors to the doors of Parliament last month. Maori groups have promised to inundate the committee with submissions and they won't be the only ones.

All of which raises some intriguing questions. What is this committee? Who sits on it? How well are they known? And where do individual members stand on the issues?

This is not one of Parliament's traditional select committees. It was formed specifically to consider the Maori Fisheries Bill; legislation to enable the distribution of fishery assets to Maori along the lines recommended by the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission. The other legislation it will receive submissions on is the Foreshore and Seabed Bill. Half of its 10 members are Maori. Beyond this its makeup is broadly representative of the standing of parties in the House.

Here is a thumbnail sketch of the men and women who will handle the hottest potato in politics today. Given the magnitude of the matters involved, the average New Zealander may be surprised to find that half the names are utterly unfamiliar. The stars beside the names indicate the MP's recognition rating among the general population (Note: Among Maori, Te Heuheu and Mahuta would rate a 10).

1. Georgina Te Heuheu*****: Deputy chair. National list member and sole Maori MP. First Maori woman to gain a law degree (1972). Member of the Waitangi Tribunal (1986-1996). Her thinking on Maori matters is closer to Helen Clark's than that of Don Brash, whose Orewa speech she deplored.

2. Ken Shirley*****: ACT list MP, deputy leader, whip and candidate for leader. Most experienced MP on the committee. Labour member for Tasman July 1984-October 1990. Minister of Fisheries (1990). In line with his party's stated position, Shirley can be expected to oppose the Bill.

3. Dover Samuels****: Labour member for Te Tai Tokerau. Only current cabinet member on committee (Minister for State). Former fisherman for 30 years. Passionate supporter of Treaty and Helen Clark (with whom he formerly clashed). Member of Labour's "tight five" Maori MPs who support the Bill.

4. Nanaia Mahuta***: Labour member for Tainui. …

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