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Prime Minister Must Act Consistently

Prime Minister Must Act Consistently

"The Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commissioners have foreshadowed that the decision to allow the Maori Land Court to hear iwi claims to the foreshore and seabed of the Marlborough Sounds opens the way for similar claims around the country" ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said today.

"I now call upon Prime Minister Helen Clark to act consistently, and to declare such claims off limits -as she recently did in the case of the claim for oil and gas reserves. In this instance, it was made quite clear that oil, gas and mineral reserves were vested in the Crown by legislation in 1937," Mr Shirley said.

"A parallel situation applies to the foreshore and seabed. Section 7 of the Territorial Exclusive Economic Zone Act of 1977 states that the seabed from the landward side of the low water along the coast of New Zealand (including the coast of all islands) and the seaward side the outer limits of the territorial sea (the 12 mile limit) shall be deemed to be, and always to have been, vested in the Crown.

"Furthermore, the Foreshore and Seabed Empowering and Reinvestment Act of 1991 revests in the Crown all foreshore which had been alienated. Section 5 of this Act expressively states `all of the land to which this Act applies is hereby vested in the Crown as if it had never been alienated from the Crown and free from all subsequent trusts, reservations, restrictions and conditions'.

"If Maori are to claim the foreshore and seabed, then every boat ramp, mooring, anchorage and jetty is up for grabs. In addition, ownership and access to the vast areas of reclaimed land - including various commercial and private buildings, ports, parks and amenities - are thrown into legal confusion and conflict.

"The Marlborough case commenced as attempts by enterprising (top of the South) iwi to muscle into the lucrative shellfish in the Marlborough Sounds. For this to now be extended over the entire foreshore and seabed is an utter nonsense.

"The Government must act decisively. It must spell out the bounds to claims - in order that undue anxiety isn't caused to tens of thousands of New Zealanders on the one hand, and iwi don't waste any more time and money pursuing claims that should be off limits," Mr Shirley said.

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