New Zealand History/Recent History
New Zealand's Recent History
Major Events in the Twenty First Century - 2000-2007
The population of New Zealand reached four million.
The Foreshore and Seabed Controversy
The foreshore and seabed controversy was under heavy debate in 2004. The foreshore and seabed debate involved the Maori wanting ownership of New Zealand beaches, as they saw it a customary right. This claim was based around the fact that Maori used to 'own' the beaches before Europeans came to New Zealand, and the Treaty of Waitangi stated that Maori could keep their lands and possessions.
The New Zealand public were surprised and shocked by the claim to the beaches. The Prime Minister at the time, Helen Clark, said that the Government would be passing law to ensure that beaches remained in public hands. However, the law incorporated Maori being consulted over foreshore and seabed matters. Due to this, the Labour Party was heavily attacked by National Party leader, Don Brash, who said the Government showed favouritism towards Maoris. Soon afterwards National was ahead of Labour in an opinion poll.
On the 18th of November 2004, the Labour Government passed the Foreshore and Seabed Bill and it became law. The Act made the foreshore and seabed property of the Crown. However, the Act was still subject to dispute, with some calling for modifications to the law.
The Maori Party Formed
The Maori Party was launched on the 7th of July 2004. It was formed around a former Labour Party Cabinet Minister, Tariana Turia, and as its name suggests, it is based on the indigenous Maori population. The foreshore and seabed controversy was one of the main reasons for setting up the party.
The Maori Party contested the 2005 general elections, and won four of the seven Maori seats and 2.12% of the party vote.
Anti-smacking Bill Passed as Law
The Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007, commonly known as the anti-smacking Bill, was a highly controversial Bill introduced by Green Party MP Sue Bradford, which amended Section 59 of the Crimes Act. The Bill removed legal defence of 'reasonable force' for parents prosecuted of assaulting their children.
There was large-scale public opposition to the Bill. In opinion polls, there was overwhelming public opposition to the Bill. Despite this, the Bill was passed on the 16th of May 2007, with a large majority of 113 votes against 8.