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Claims already lodged on 2400km of coast

Claims already lodged on 2400km of coast

Claims covering five million hectares, some 2,400 km of New Zealand's coast are already before the Maori Land Court after the Government left open the door to such applications six weeks ago.

"The Government timetable of legislation by the end of the year, means consideration of these claims could be well-advanced by then. In the meantime, it will get harder and harder for Labour to contain Maori expectations with any kind of deal," says National Party Leader Bill English.

He made the comments while providing details of the 19 areas around New Zealand for which applications for title have been made. "The number of applications for title has exploded from three to 19 in just four weeks.

"These now cover an estimated 5.2 million hectares of foreshore and seabed and 2413 km of our coast," Mr English says.

"The Government must stop the dithering. It has left a leadership vacuum that has allowed Maori expectations to rise.

"These claimants are following a process which could lead to the granting of extensive private title and Labour has so far done nothing to dampen expectations let alone prevent it.

"Every day that goes by, more applications for title will be lodged," he says.

"This is not like the Treaty claim process where the Government has the final say, the Maori Land Court is entitled to process these applications and issue title.

"The more this train gains momentum the harder it will be to stop,' Mr English says.

"The information also shows there are competing Maori claims. "Already the Maori Land Court has received more than one application for the same area of coast.

"That's bound to create further tension," Mr English says.

"Helen Clark can't wait any longer to deliver on the promises she made a little more than a month ago, when she told New Zealanders exclusive title to our beaches and foreshore had long been considered to rest with the Crown.

"Time is against the Government. It must now act before even more claims are lodged," Mr English says.

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