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Government stewing in its own foreshore pickle

Government stewing in its own foreshore pickle

The Government is responsible for driving up unfounded fears that Maori are conducting a land-grab that will deny New Zealanders the chance to swim or go fishing, Green MP Metiria Turei said today.

"The knee-jerk reaction of the Government over the foreshore and seabed issue has been nothing short of irresponsible," said Metiria, the Green spokesperson for Maori Affairs.

"Their response and posturing has actually driven up the unfounded fears of the community that the foreshore and seabed are under serious threat from Maori.

"These claims will not deny the ability for all New Zealanders to fish, swim and to enjoy the water as they have always done.

"The example of good faith-negotiated lake bed ownership such as Lake Taupo in 1992 is an example of how mutual respect between the Government and Maori can achieve good outcomes for all people in New Zealand.

"The Government has not made these examples obvious to the community and this omission has undermined both Maori and the community's confidence in the Government's ability to manage these issues carefully and thoughtfully."

Metiria said it is vital New Zealanders not to be caught up in Government spin and remember that Maori interests are not in conflict with those of the community.

In 1987 the New Zealand Maori Council fought the Governments drive to sell off the community's assets, and in the landmark SOE court case forced the Government to retain ownership of those assets, for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

"It is these examples where Maori and the community have benefited from Maori struggles under the Treaty that the government should be highlighting," said Metiria.

"But they prefer to pander to fears that Maori interests are only about money, perhaps because they themselves are primarily concerned about economic drivers and not what is right and just for Maori and the whole community.

"The government are in a pickle of their own making. But it will be all of us who suffer for their failure of judgement on this issue."

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