IN COMMITTEE Seabed Committee Who’s Who

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 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 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 10).
1. Georgina Te Heuheu*****: Deputy chair. National list member and sole Maori MP. First Maori woman to gain 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. Young, with impeccable Labour family and tribal credentials. MA (Hons) in Social Anthropology. Nearly resigned with Tariana Turia over the Bill, but has decided to stick around and fight from inside the whare, at least for the moment.
5. Dail Jones***: NZ First list MP. Lawyer and former National MP. Credited with being the only New Zealand MP ever to be the target of political assignation attempt (unsuccessful). Drafted onto committee after NZ First cut deal with the Government to support first reading of Bill.
6. Russell Fairbrother**: Chair. Labour member for Napier. Fifty-seven year old father of six. Truck driver, freezing and factory worker, insurance broker, while studying law part time. Practised law in Napier for 24 years. Finds himself, unexpectedly, as Labour’s point man on the biggest case of his life.
7. Phil Heatley*: National member for Whangarei. Masters with honours degree majoring in Agricultural Engineering. Formerly worked as professional engineer. Far more likely to toe National Party line than Te Heuheu.
8. Mahara Okeroa*: Labour member for Te Tai Tonga. Chairman of Maori Affairs select committee. Wide community involvement, including president of the Organising Committee for the National Bowling Tournament. Another member of Labour’s pro-Bill “tight five”.
9. Larry Baldock*: List member of United Future. Member of Youth With Mission (1979-1997). Lecturer at the University of the Nations (1988-1999). National director, Youth With Mission, Philippines (1989-1997). No special axe to grind on this one.
10. Metiria Turei. Green list MP. 34-year-old lawyer. Stood for: the McGillicuddy Serious Party (1993); Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (1996). Former member, Random Trollops anarcho-feminist performance troupe. Stands staunch with the hikoi protesters.
Few of these MPs may be household names; their starting positions may range from one extreme to the other; their talents may be equally varied (other than the fact that four of them are lawyers) and one can hardly imagine them socialising together; nevertheless these 10 are tasked with finding common ground on the Bill that so far has shown the most remarkable propensity to divide.

Julie Collier is editor and publisher of Select Committee News.

Visited 3 times, 1 visit(s) today

Business benefits of privacy

Privacy Week (13-17 May) is a great time to consider the importance of privacy and to help ensure you and your company have good privacy practices in place, writes Privacy

Read More »
Close Search Window