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Protecting public access and customary rights

18 August 2003 Media Statement

Foreshore and seabed: protecting public access and customary rights


The government today released its proposal for protecting public access and customary rights in the foreshore and seabed, saying it is a ‘win-win’ solution for all New Zealanders.

The proposal was released by Prime Minister Helen Clark, Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen, and Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia. It involves:
a. clarifying legislation to ensure that the foreshore and seabed are not subject to private rights of ownership, and
b. the recognition and protection of Maori customary rights.

Helen Clark, Michael Cullen, and Parekura Horomia said the government’s proposal recognises that coastal areas are important to all New Zealanders and that everyone must be able to use and enjoy them now and in the future.

“The government’s approach is based on four principles:
- Access - The foreshore and seabed should be public domain, with open access and use for all New Zealanders.
- Regulation - The Crown is responsible for regulating the use of the foreshore and seabed, on behalf of all present and future generations of New Zealanders.
- Protection - Processes should exist to enable the customary interests of whanau, hapu and iwi in the foreshore and seabed to be acknowledged, and specific rights to be identified and protected.
- Certainty - There should be certainty for those who use and administer the foreshore and seabed about the range of rights that are relevant to their actions.

“This proposal benefits Maori because it ensures the full range of their customary rights, in relation to the foreshore and seabed, including recognition of their mana over or ancestral connection with an area, can be appropriately recognised and protected in law. Whanau, hapu, and iwi will continue to be able to ask the Maori Land Court to investigate claims of customary rights. Protection of customary rights is entirely consistent with continuing access to and use of the beach.

“The government is resolving this issue in a principled and practical way, which aims to bring all New Zealanders together.

“This proposal deliberately says nobody owns the foreshore and seabed. The best way to protect the foreshore and seabed from alienation in the future is to ensure that no-one has fee simple title.

“The principles on which the govt has based its proposal run to the heart of our nationhood. The details around how we secure them are being subjected to a sincere consultation process before new legislation is finalised.

“The government wants a win-win outcome for all New Zealanders. We believe that with good will on all sides that outcome can be secured.”

The government is seeking comments over the next six weeks, and asks for submissions by Friday 3 October 2003. People will be able to contribute their views by:
- making a written submission to Foreshore and Seabed Submission, PO Box 55, Wellington).
- making an on line submission, visit: http:///www.beehive.govt.nz/foreshore.
- fax, (04) 473-2508.
- attending a hui or a sector group meeting
- or through your local Member of Parliament.
You can also obtain further material by telephoning: 0508 Foreshore or 0508 367 374.

“After submissions have been received and considered the government will finalise decisions on the overall approach and on the details,” the Ministers said.

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