HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 594: 14 December2011

Strong reaction by government over claims to ownership of minerals
Bruce Mita, a New Zealand Maori from Tokoroa, who has in recent years become involved in issues involving sovereignty and the traditional rights of the Ui Ariki, has again drawn stern criticism from government.
A proclamation on the topic of sovereignty declared in 2009 at Taputapuatea by some Ariki and involving Mita, resulted in the then Democratic Party government barring Ariki from the House of Ariki unless they issued a retraction and apologized to the Queen’s Representative.
More recently Mita has made claims on the issue of who owns the manganese nodule resource.
On Sunday Mita submitted a 4,700 word article on the matter of ownership of the manganese nodule resource to the Herald for consideration for printing. It is the first time any article has been known to have been submitted by Mita who has usually gone to great lengths to avoid the media. Due to legal issues raised by Mita concerning government’s rights to the resource and the provisions of certain United Nations Charters, a copy of the proposed article was submitted to the Office of the Minister for Sea Bed Minerals, the DPM Hon Tom Marsters on Tuesday for comment.
In his proposed article Mita submitted that the government did not own the resource nor did it have the legal right to facilitate negotiations with interested parties, claiming the legal owners were the traditional leaders and he also cited various sections of a 2009 United Nations Declaration as conferring certain rights on the indigenous people.
Mita claims government can only proceed if granted permission by the Ariki.
Mita’s proposed article has met with stern criticism from the DPM’s Office and the response has been swift.
The Office advised the Herald on Tuesday that the latest paper from Mita contained comments which were misleading, misguided, misconceived and misrepresenting the true situation.
The Office said it contained comments which could be seen as fraudulent and to be inciting people to commit treasonous acts. Accordingly, the Office said Mita’s comments were rejected outright.
The Office said consideration would be given to referring Mita’s paper to Crown Law and the Police for advice and possible criminal action.
The Office also cautions anyone from again believing Mita’s wild claims, without checking the facts and the correct legal situation.
Regarding ownership of resources within EEZ the Office said it was suffice to say, that the Cook Islands Government, for and on behalf of all of the people of the Cook Islands, are without any doubt, the legal owners of the resources in the waters of its EEZ.
The Cook Islands are governed by a democratically elected Parliament. This has been long-established by international law and practice.
Regarding Mita’s reference to various Articles under the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous people (UNDRIP), the Office advised that UNDRIP dealt with land and indigenous people’s rights relating to their land, not the sea. So it was incorrect to use UNDRIP to relate to sea resources such as fishing, minerals or other natural resources.
The Office also said that UNCLOS, the 1982 United Nations Convention of Law of the Sea, is the correct International Convention to refer to. UNCLOS bestows the rights of the Cook Islands as a State to the resources within its EEZ.
The Office said the UNDRIP does not transfer ownership of the resources of the EEZ from the Government to any party.
As to the legal effect of the declaration, the Office advised the Declaration states that “a declaration may by custom become recognized as laying down rules binding upon States” (Report of the Commission on Human Rights, E/3616/Rev. l, para. 105).
The Office advised that the Declaration is not law in any country until a State creates a national law to take the Declaration on as its own national law. So the Declaration has NO LEGAL or BINDING EFFECT on the Cook Islands as there has been no law to support it directly. However, the Office said many of its requirements are already in our current land laws.
At nearly 5,000 words, the Mita article is too long to print in its entirety. The Office will advise regarding his enquiry with Crown Law, following which parts of the article may be printed. -Charles Pitt

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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