Published January 2017
23 Dec – While people in the northern rivers are still celebrating the region’s new gasfield free status, two Gamilaraay traditional custodians from Moree are battling CSG company Santos using the same techniques that helped win the battle here.
The pair have entered Santos’ property about 25km south of Narrabri and halted construction at the Leewood coal seam gas wastewater treatment plant by locking themselves with a metal pipe to excavating equipment.
Fifteen supporters risked arrest to accompany the men onto the Santos’ property, while another 15 people demonstrated their support from outside the fence.
There has been a recent resurgence in protest activity against Santos’ works in the Pilliga forest near Narrabri as the company begins construction at Leewood.
The large-scale wastewater treatment plant is regarded as as a significant milestone in the development of the coal seam gas industry in NSW, and is the subject of a pending court case that will question the legality of its approval.
Fifty-four-year-old Paul Spearim, a respected Gamilaraay cultural authority, said in local language ‘Our ancestors are always watching (Ngiyaningu maran yaliwunga ngarra-li).’
‘We want Santos to get out of our sacred lands and protect our gali (water),’ he added.
His lock-on partner Nathan Leslie, a 32 year-old Gamilaraay man, said he saw it has his responsibility to stop the project on his ancestral land.
‘We’re halting construction at Santos’ Leewood coal seam gas wastewater treatment facility in the Pilliga as this operation is a major step forward for the risky CSG industry in NSW and as a Gamilaraay man it is my responsibility to oppose this threat to country.’
‘This Leewood facility will result in 500 million tonnes of toxic waste after just five years of exploration activity.
‘This toxic industry threatens our water, our country and our culture, and Gamiliaraay people say “no” to Santos’ coal seam gas,’ Mr Leslie said.
Murrumu Walubara Yidindji is the foreign minister of Yidindji sovereign nation, an Indigenous tribal group that has renounced ties with Australia
A small Aboriginal tribal group that has established its own government and renounced legal ties with Australia aims to make history by entering into the first Indigenous treaty with the Commonwealth.
The Sovereign Yidindji Government, whose lands stretch south of Port Douglas, through Cairns, inland across the Atherton Tablelands and 80km out to sea, says it wants to help Australia overcome the legal conundrum of operating on Yidindji territory without consent.
Murrumu Walubara Yidindji, the foreign affairs minister, said his government was similar to the Vatican City State – with its own laws, language and institutions.
To the Yidindji people, Australia is a “foreign entity”.
“The Commonwealth of Australia does not have consent or a treaty to enter Yidindji territory, so we had to show the leadership to create our own institutions of government,” Murrumu told Fairfax Media on a visit to Sydney.
“It doesn’t have any validity in law.”
Formerly a journalist known as Jeremy Geia, Murrumu has renounced his Australian citizenship, relinquished his passport and bank accounts, and eschews Australian currency.
“Australia, we can see the injury you’ve got,” he said.
“We can cure it and we’re not going to send you a bill for it. It’s a hearts and minds game and all we’re saying is we have our own jurisdiction.”
On Sunday, he sent his condolences as Yidindji foreign affairs minister to the people of Russia after an horrific plane crash in which all 224 passengers on board perished.
“Today I conveyed our condolences to Russian Foreign Ministry agents & our thoughts and prayers to loved ones of the crash victims #7K9268“, Murrumu Walubara Yidindji tweeted on Sunday.
Today I conveyed our condolences to Russian Foreign Ministry agents & our thoughts and prayers to loved ones of the crash victims #7K9268
— Murrumu: Walubara (@MW_Yidindji) November 1, 2015
Since early last year, around 40 people have taken the citizenship pledge to join the Yidindji tribal people, who also have their own driver licensing system.
— ©Murrumu™ (@flashblack) April 21, 2015
Murrumu was pulled over by Queensland police on Sorry Day in May this year and charged over allegedly driving an unregistered vehicle without a licence, he said.
He did not show up to court to defend the charges and said he had no idea how the case against him had progressed through the state’s legal system.
“It’s got nothing to do with me,” he said.
He is unsure how he will achieve international travel on a Yidindji passport, but is reaching out to countries like Russia and Venezuela to establish diplomatic relations.
The Yidindji government has also sought meetings with the Australian government, but is yet to get a response.
“What we’re saying to the Commonwealth of Australia is: come and sit down with us, have a cup of tea and let’s talk about entering a memorandum of understanding to grant you consent to enter our territory,” Murrumu said.
“This could be a blueprint for true reconciliation.”
Professor Megan Davis, a constitutional law expert and chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, said there was nothing stopping the Commonwealth from today entering into a treaty with the Yidindji government.
“People might think it seems a little bit out of the box, but it’s not. It’s quite a conventional way to do it,” she said.
“It’s a ‘Field of Dreams’ principle: build it and they will come.”
The impediments to treaties, like those in Canada and New Zealand, were political, not legal, the University of NSW academic said.
Oct 29 – A showdown of sorts has taken place on the shores of Lake Horowhenua, where a long-running dispute between the local rowing club and one of the lake’s Māori owners recently reignited, along with allegations of assaults and vandalism.
One of the lake’s owners, Phil Taueki, who lives at the lake, has been at war with the rowers over the use of club sheds he says were illegally built on Māori land.
The Horowhenua Rowing Club had been permitted to lease the buildings on the lakeside but after being told to leave and given a deadline, they have begun moving out.
The conflict between the two parties is deeply embedded in the management, ownership and administration of the lake, which is the subject of 22 Waitangi Tribunal claims.
Lake Horowhenua is unique. It is owned by Māori but, after a parliamentary act in 1905, its administration and management became the responsibility of a government-appointed board.
The Horowhenua Lake Domain Board is made up of four council representatives and four iwi but at present just three iwi members sit on the board.
In 1950, the government also formed a trust to represent the Māori owners, but not all of the owners support it.
Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell said the model was not one that would be used today. He said he had heard the concerns of Māori about the set-up and was willing to work with them to solve the situation.
Mr Taueki, who is one of the lake’s many owners, operates without his wider iwi’s support – but with the belief he has every right to occupy and manage the lake, of which his grandfather was an original owner.
According to a Māori Land Court judgment, the buildings at the heart of the dispute are considered fixtures and, consequently, are the property of the lake’s Māori land owners.
The lake’s board, however, has permitted the rowers to use the club sheds for decades.
Mr Taueki has often been left standing on his own in his opposition to the agreement.
During the long-running dispute, there have been allegations of assaults, claims of death threats and vandalism.
Mr Taueki has had about 40 different charges laid against him but said all of them had been withdrawn or dismissed, with only a couple still pending.
He said the lakeside had been quiet since the rowers left the buildings and he hoped they would not come back.
15 Sept – On his way back from terminating the Maori occupation of Kaitaia Airport, Police Superintendent Wallace Haumaha was diverted to Lake Horowhenua to deal with another Maori occupation.
Last Sunday, more than twenty Mua-Upoko owners took possession of the former Sailing Club building overlooking this privately-owned lake.
Superintendent Haumaha warned these owners he could arrest them and lock them all up in jail, but was prepared to let the status quo remain while he conducted some investigations.
However, former Horowhenua District Councillor Anne Hunt was on hand to show Superintendent Haumaha copies of various court judgements including one from the Supreme Court confirming that the clubs were unlawfully occupying buildings that belong to Mua-Upoko.
She also pointed out that the Crimes Act justifies owners entering their own buildings during the daytime for the purpose of taking possession thereof.
Mrs Hunt says she is concerned that the police still assume that Lake Horowhenua is the subject of a Treaty claim.
“This is far from the truth”, she says. “A certificate of title was issued in 1899 for the bed of the lake and all the land surrounding it. It was then declared ‘inalienable’ by the Appellate Court.”
Nevertheless, Parliament passed a law in 1905 letting the public use this privately-owned lake free of charge.
Mrs Hunt says research commissioned by the Waitangi Tribunal confirms her suspicion that the Crown never bothered to consult the owners first, and as far as she is concerned, that is “theft by statute”. The owners have never received any compensation for the use of their lake.
Both the Rowing and Sailing Clubs had erected clubrooms on this freehold land without bothering to get permission from the owners first. The Court has already confirmed that as fixtures, these buildings now belong to the Mua-Upoko owners.
The other Domain building is occupied by members of the Horowhenua Rowing Club, who refuse to vacate the building even though their licence to occupy expired in 2007.
The Court of Appeal has since established that the Reserves Act prohibits any attempt to extend this lease even on a month-by-month basis.
Last Sunday, the owners recorded footage of the rowers trespassing on a waahi tapu site to launch their boats. Judge Atkins had warned them not to do so, and had summoned Police Inspector Mark Harrison to an in-Chambers hearing to put in place protocols to prevent further culturally-offensive behaviour.
Cr Jo Mason testified in court that rowers urinated in this area because there are no toilets in the building.
Mrs Hunt says that many of the owners believe they have been forced to tolerate this situation long enough. As 30 October marks 110 years since the Horowhenua Lake Act was passed, the owners are preparing to take back control of their own property and decide who can use their own facilities.
Plans are in place to set up a waka ama club this weekend, and negotiations will continue this week to decide what happens to the northern building at the Domain.
9 Sept – A 28-hour occupation of Kaitaia Airport by Ngati Kahu has ended in a blaze of tyres and five arrests.
The airport occupation, which began just before lunchtime on Tuesday, was brought to an abrupt end as police moved in just before 3pm today.
Action leader Wi Popata, of Ngati Kahu, said the occupation was a protest against a $100 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement this week.
The Te Hiku Claims Settlement Bill was read for its third and final time in Parliament today, ratifying the settlements of four of five Muriwhenua iwi – Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto, Te Rarawa and Ngati Kuri. Ngati Kahu is the only Te Hiku iwi to not yet settle.
Northland District Commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou said negotiations with the protesters had failed to reach a resolution and police were left with no choice.
About 20 police went to the airport and closed the access roads. The protesters were given the ultimatum of leaving on their own accord or being arrested.
Six members of the occupation remained on a bench seat in the airport carpark and were each individually arrested.
Tensions flared when the departing protesters lit fires on either side of the airport driveway, fuelled by tyres and fenceposts.
The Kaitaia Fire Station sent one appliance to put out the bonfires. Protest leader Mr Popata said the fires were “signals”.
“It was to show the shit we’ve been through. It’s to remind people of the houses, the marae, the taonga that has been destroyed.”
He said he and his brother Hone had left the airport rather than be arrested after being urged to leave by older protest members.
“Our people didn’t want us to be arrested,” he said.
“They wanted us to come out and carry on.”
Wi Popata said the protest would return, despite having now been formally trespassed from the property.
“We’ll be back. We will mobilise our iwi and we will come back and take our land.”
The Far North Mayor John Carter said flights were expected to resume by tomorrow morning.
About 50 people had gathered at the Oturu Marae before walking to the occupation site with fence posts and corrugated iron to construct a marae. They went to the front desk and informed Barrier Air pilot Sam Bowering they were taking over the facility. The airport’s operators locked the terminal building as the protesters gathered outside to hear speeches in the carpark.
One of the organisers, Hone Popata, had said that and all air operations would be closed.
“We are in charge now,” he said. “We’re here to fight and to take back our land.”
Police asked the occupiers to allow the airport company Far North Holdings to retrieve a Barrier Air craft and a fuel truck, which was agreed to. “It’s only a plane,” one woman said. “We want our land.”
Wi Popata said the airport land was important to three hapu of Ngati Kahu – Patukoraha, Ngai Tohianga and Ngai Takoto – and included important boundaries, with two urupa in the area. The Matenga-Erstich whanau said the owners were “repossessing” land taken for an airfield in WWII.
Protesters building a marae in the Kaitaia Airport
Ngati Kahu and Ngai Takoto have each been offered the right to buy 50 per cent of Kaitaia Airport in their respective Treaty of Waitangi settlements.
But if Ngati Kahu does not settle with the Crown within three years, 100 per cent will be offered to Ngai Takoto, Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson told Parliament today.
The offer for the airport is conditional on the land remaining an airport and the right to purchase takes effect in three years.
“If Ngati Kahu have not concluded a treaty settlement within three years of Ngai Takoto settlement date, around December 2018, then Ngai Takoto will have the sole right to purchase the property,” Mr Finlayson said during debate on four northern settlements: Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto and Te Rarawa.
“This approach was taken because the Crown had to balance the interests of both iwi while ensuring certainty about the future of the airport.”
Indymedia: In the early hours of February 14, various anti-police slogans were sprayed across dozens of fences, walls, billboards and bus stops throughout Woolloomooloo, Redfern, Chippendale, Camperdown, Darlington and Newtown.
Later that morning hundreds gathered at the fence line were TJ Hickey was chased to his death by police 10 years ago. For hours his family and supporters marched through the streets of Sydney to Parliament House, chanting against the uniformed murderers of the state, with demonstrators carrying banners such as “JUSTICE FOR TJ” “ABORIGINAL CONTROL OF ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS” “AVENGE TJ BURN DA COPSHOPS” “ACAB” “COPS PIGS MURDERERS” and “FUCK THE POLICE” Continue reading “Sydney: Revenge for TJ”