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One standard of citizenship for our coast

One standard of citizenship for our coast

"The Court of Appeal decision to give the Maori Land Court jurisdiction over ownership of the foreshore and seabed in the Marlborough Sounds has wider implications that should concern every New Zealander," says National Party Environment spokesman Dr Nick Smith.

When Dr Smith was the Minister he appealed the initial Maori Land Court decision on the Marlborough Sounds to the High Court.

"Today's decision will open the flood-gates to more Maori claims over beaches, estuaries, harbours and almost any stretch of coastline.

"It allows the Maori Land Court to issue titles to local iwi, who could then potentially have control over access and use," says Dr Smith.

"It has huge implications for recreational and commercial fishers, marine farmers, port companies and shipping companies.

"Then there are the obvious questions about access for everyday beach users.

"Parliament established the Maori Land Court to allow issues between Maori over their land to be resolved by their own court," Dr Smith says.

"It was never intended as a court to deal with issues of foreshore and seabed that have an extensive impact on the rights of all New Zealanders.

"To avoid the uncertainty, the Government needs to respond to this issue in the same way it dealt with claims over oil and gas," says Dr Smith.

"It should immediately appeal this decision through the Privy Council, or legislate to make it clear that the jurisdiction of the Maori Land Court does not extend to our foreshore and seabed.

"Any delay will only cause uncertainty for key industries that are continuously making investment decisions," Dr Smith says.

"It'll also fuel racial tension as New Zealanders come to understand the threat to their rights to fish and enjoy the coastal environment.

"The foreshore should not be privatised by stealth. It should be protected and managed for the benefit of all New Zealanders," says Dr Smith.

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