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United On New Zealand's foreshores and seabeds

United Future position on the ownership of New Zealand's foreshores and seabeds

United Future leader, Peter Dunne, today spelt out what the party would like to see as an ideal resolution to the very complex debate concerning ownership of New Zealand's seabeds and foreshores.

"We have already expressed our real concern about the potentially divisive effect on New Zealand society of this issue being dragged out for too long," he said.

"Accordingly, in the interests of offering a constructive path towards a solution, United Future is proposing:

1. No person or entity shall hold a legal fee simple property right to a foreshore or seabed, unless such a right already exists.

2. Ownership of the foreshores and seabeds, where it does not conflict with current legal rights, shall be vested explicitly by legislation in the Crown, on behalf of all New Zealanders.

3. The Queen's Chain shall be defined in law and free public access to the Chain shall be defined in law, except where it adversely affects the rights of adjoining private property owners. In such cases, the Crown shall use all its best endeavours to provide public access to the Chain.

4. Noting the confusion over the definition of phrases such as 'customary rights, customary title and customary usage', the government will ask Parliament to define them by legislation after exhaustive public consultation.

5. When Parliament has determined the meaning of those terms, the Maori Land Court will be permitted to hear claims from Maori as to their rights over the foreshores and seabeds, on the clear understanding that no fee simple rights will be capable of being granted.

"I want to emphasize that we believe all citizens' rights should be protected under law and there should never be any impediment to New Zealanders' basic right to access our beaches and seas without hindrance," said Mr Dunne.

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