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Greens call for foreshore public access debate

18 July, 2003
Greens call for foreshore public access debate

The Green Party has called for a wide-ranging public debate on foreshore and seabed access and riparian rights.

Green MP Metiria Turei said the public has been misled over the consequences of Maori customary ownership to the foreshore and seabed into thinking they will not enjoy the freedom to access New Zealand's lakes, rivers and coastal areas.

The Green Maori Affairs spokesperson said the debate must include a thorough discussion of the scope of freehold titles, riparian rights and other forms of legal exclusion. Many of these titles have already fallen into foreign ownership.

"There has been a frenzy whipped up over Maori customary ownership driven by fears that public access to the foreshore and seabed would be denied," said Metiria.

"The reality is that individuals have enjoyed the right to exclude the public from their parts of the beach or lake for decades.

"Foreign absentee landlords have been buying huge tracts of land at a rate never seen before in New Zealand but there has been no-where near the same hysteria as what has developed over Maori customary ownership.

"I call on the Government to conduct a thorough and sensible public discussion so the New Zealand public is fully aware of the issues of ownership, access and what Maori customary ownership actually means," said Metiria.

"The Green Party acknowledges customary ownership is a pre-treaty collective concept governed by tikanga Maori. We understand that this does not provide for the sale of land in the way that freehold title and western forms of property ownership does.

"The only way the foreshore and seabed could be sold was if it was transferred to freehold title.

"We oppose any legislation that extinguishes or redefines customary ownership," said Metiria.

"We support public rights to access our natural environment in ways that are respectful, non-commercial and sustainable."


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