Re: Kiwi Fruit

Roy T. Fielding (
Fri, 02 Jul 1999 18:38:45 -0700

>What ever happened to the theory that air was free and that
>people arguing about land ownership was just ticks arguing about
>who owned the dog?

That would be a native american philosophy. The Maori are a little
different. In the Treaty of Waitangi, the Maori were declared owners
of all property not-yet-sold in New Zealand in exchange for accepting
the Crown as their sovereign and agreeing to make all sales through the
Crown rather than as individuals. I've always thought it was a good
deal for both sides, since the Maori might never have agreed among
themselves otherwise and gained nothing in exchange for their land,
or on the other hand might have agreed among themselves and easily
wiped-out the European settlers had there not been a reason for most
of the iwis (tribes) to align themselves with the Crown.

Although many people in modern NZ dislike the way that it seems to assign
special rights to one racial group, the reality is that it is a simple
matter of inheritance and whether or not the government has the right to
take a citizen's property just because they feel like it. Naturally,
people weren't complaining too much until the Maori figured out that what
hadn't already been sold over the past 150 years was still theirs according
to British law, and that includes all rivers, lakes, sea, and anything else
in NZ that can be considered property but hasn't been sold to the Crown
at some point in the past, including any property that was taken without
due process during the Maori Wars.

Of course, just like any law, there are people on both sides constantly
trying to abuse the treaty for their own personal financial or political
gain. The biggest problem that the Maori have right now is their own
leadership -- the most self-centered and egotistical asswipes that
Maoridom has allowed in or around government since the very first national
elections, and there don't seem to be many alternatives rising from the
younger politicos.

Anyway, this particular claim was being widely criticized when I was
down in NZ in May. Some fool said that it is a legitimate claim because
Maori considered the air above one's head to be related to one's mana,
and therefore sacred. That, of course, is bullshit, and resulted in
quite a few amusing cartoons in the papers and led to a lot of unnecessary
huffing and puffing by the political meatheads. However, that doesn't
mean the claim itself wasn't valid. The basis is quite simple: if the
radio spectrum can be considered property to the extent that the
government is allowed to benefit from leasing the right to use it, then
who owns the property right now? The government? No, because unlike
most governments, NZ does not have ownership of unclaimed property.
The Maori do. So there really is only two choices here: either declare
the radio spectrum to not be property and thus not subject to leasing,
or give the benefit of the lease rights (minus the auction costs) to
the Maori. An intelligent government would just go ahead and do the latter
via an allocation to the Maori educational trust or some such, freeing
up other tax money for general use. But noooooo, they had to make an
issue out of it.

Oh, and in case people are wondering, I am Maori in the legal sense,
being descended from the Ngati Raukawa/Ngati Huri and traced back to
the Tainui, though I don't look like it except for body type. I haven't
bothered with any of the benefits, though, since I was born in the States,
and if I ever did get any I'd just donate it back to my poorer cousins
maintaining the iwi's Marae.