The Labour Party says it might come as a revelation to some that not all Maori are opposed to mining and oil drilling.
Maori Economic Development spokesperson Shane Jones says there is a fossilised view that Maori aren't interested or capable of making pragmatic decisions.
While he acknowledges there are been pockets of resistance, Mr Jones says there's a variety of views - not a monolithic one.
He’s right in one respect: there isn’t a singular view. However, I would guess, that the vast, vast majority of Maori oppose mining. Case in point, the almost universal opposition of the East Coast against oil prospecting, let alone oil drilling. In 2010 iwi leaders also rejected government suggestions to mine Maori land and Northland iwi sent a strong message that exploratory miners will be treated as “trespassers”. I think Dayle Takitimu’s open letter to the Maori Party represents Maori feeling well.
It’s interesting to see Shane Jones searching for what he keeps terming “pragmatic” ideas. Jones should be applauded for stepping out, but advocating mining, as I have said previously, runs contrary to Maori values (think kaitiakitanga) and David Shearer’s (read Labour’s) vision for a clean, green and clever economy.
I come back to the idea of hypocrisy. We, as Maori, share a special connection with the land and we like to remind people of this. However, Maori advocacy for mining is out of step with our claims to be the kaitiaki of the land. We cannot, on the one hand, denounce mining as a crime against Papatuanuku, while on the other hand, one of our leaders trumpets mining as a panacea.
Surely other options for economic development exist. For example, aquaculture, like this aquaculture set up in Opotiki, may provide economic growth for Maori on the East Coast. Maori have generations of experience in primary production, therefore, we probably have a competitive advantage when it comes to food production. Aquaculture products, like the sea cucumber which is a sought after delicacy in Chine, are value added products. Any operation on the East Coast would have to deal in value added products as the operation would lack the ability to produce high volumes of product. Therefore, value added products like sea cucumber, lobster/cayfish and so on fit nicely in a low intensity operation.
It isn’t harmful to have a debate about mining. Either way, I think Jones’ idea would be soundly rejected.