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Lock Up The Forests, Labour

Lock Up The Forests, Labour

Fears of forests being locked up - or exorbitant rent being charged - for access, illustrates yet again that the criteria for Maori is different from that of the rest of the country, ACT New Zealand Rural Affairs Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff said today.

"The Government negotiates access with Crown pastoral leases when that land is being freeholded into private hands - why can it not achieve similar outcomes with the new Maori owners of what was, previously, part of the Crown's forestry estate?" Mr Eckhoff said.

"A freehold title to pastoral lease land is being offered to the lessee through a process of negotiation, where conservation and recreational values remain with the Crown. Access to the Crown estate is part of the process.

"The Government clearly recognises that Maori have exclusive use of their land, as guaranteed by the Treaty of Waitangi. While I support that position, it does not mean the Crown cannot compensate Maori for loss of exclusive use during the negotiation process. Yet again, there appears to be one law for Maori, and one for everyone else.

"What the Government does not seem to realise is that a property right is a property right, which should never be compromised retrospectively. Satisfactory outcomes are available if the Government applies an even-handed approach to access to what was once part of the Crown estate," Mr Eckhoff said.

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