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New changes don't solve foreshore issues

The new marine and coastal legislation will leave most coast hapu emptyhanded, a Treaty of Waitangi specialist says.The Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill will be debated in Parliament for the first time on Thursday.It repeals the Foreshore and

NZPA
Tue, 07 Sep 2010

The new marine and coastal legislation will leave most coast hapu emptyhanded, a Treaty of Waitangi specialist says.

The Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill will be debated in Parliament for the first time on Thursday.

It repeals the Foreshore and Seabed Act and replaces it with a new regime first announced in June after agreement had been reached with the Maori Party although iwi leaders gave it a less than enthusiastic endorsement.

The Maori Party fought for the repeal of the original legislation and will support the replacement bill.

Labour has said it will support the new bill to its first reading.

Under the new legislation the foreshore and seabed will be removed from Crown ownership and will become a common space with public access guaranteed.

Existing private titles will not be affected but there will not be any new ones.

Iwi will be able to seek customary title through negotiation with the government or through the High Court, and to gain that title they will have to prove exclusive use and occupation since 1840.

Where the right to customary title can be proved, it will sit alongside the common area rights of public access, fishing, navigation and existing uses.

But Auckland University of Technology history professor and treaty specialist Dr Paul Moon said the bill was "bound to disappoint" those who had campaigned for greater Maori rights to the foreshore and seabed.

The high threshold for hapu to prove customary title entitlement and the way he expected the Crown would handle the process were the two biggest issues, Dr Moon said.

"The hurdles that hapu have to jump to prove their right to customary title are prohibitive in many cases and will leave the majority of coastal hapu emptyhanded," he said.

"Proving exclusive use and occupation since 1840 ignores some of the more complex issues of entitlement."

As well, there was "every indication" the government wanted to act quickly to determine which hapu would and would not receive customary title, Dr Moon said.

Labour's David Parker said the new bill only changed the name and process.

"People won't notice much change of substance.

"The decision to repeal rather than amend is just a face saving exercise for the Maori Party."

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said decisions on Maori customary title made under new marine and coastal legislation should be full and final.

"They have to be just and they have to be durable. People do not want these matters re-litigated every 10 years," he told media this morning.

Prime Minister John Key said the government did not want to "spend our life re-litigating this issue."

"We've got something on the table. We're happy with it. I'm sure not everyone will be, including a number of iwi groups. Well, that's just the way it is."

The bill was likely to be enacted early next year.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the new bill repeats the original injustice of Maori alienation from coastal areas.

NZPA
Tue, 07 Sep 2010
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New changes don't solve foreshore issues
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