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Foreshore Troubles Of Government's Own Making

Foreshore Troubles Of Government's Own Making

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley, the only MP not identified as Maori to attend the Hauraki hui on seabed and foreshore claims, today said that the Labour Government has no one to blame but itself for the unreasonable expectations that have emerged from the hui.

"Two weeks ago, after the Appeal Court's decision, Prime Minister Helen Clark responded decisively, and boldly asserted Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed to the acclamation and relief of the vast majority of New Zealanders," Mr Shirley said.

"Yet, a few short days later, faced with a rebellion from its Maori Caucus, the Labour Government did an about-face issuing ameliorating musings about negotiated settlements and `win-win' scenarios.

"Given this Government backdown, we should not be surprised that the Hauraki Declaration upped the ante, by declaring outright hapu and iwi ownership of the foreshore and seabed - and directing all Maori MPs to oppose any legislation which proposes to redefine customary title or use rights.

"The difficulty we now face is that those rights have never been satisfactorily defined. Any attempt to address the lack of definition will be seen by some as a redefinition.

"The conflict is now further compounded by Hauraki iwi threatening to block the Government's approach to the UN, under the international law of the sea, to better define New Zealand's rights over the continental shelf beyond our territorial waters.

"The basic concept of sovereignty, guaranteed under the Treaty's Article One, is now being challenged. Maori demands of Treaty partnership in international negotiations can only be seen as a direct challenge to the sovereignty of the Crown, which must act on behalf of us all," Mr Shirley said.

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