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Denial of customary rights unacceptable - Greens

Denial of customary rights unacceptable, say Greens

The Green Party is calling on the Government to recognise Maori rights in regard to the foreshore and seabed.

Green Maori Affairs spokesperson, Metiria Turei said today that the reduction of the term "customary title" into "customary interests" in the Government's consultation paper and Government prescription of what constitutes customary activity is an abrogation of the Treaty.

"Where is the good faith relationship?" Metiria asked. "This proposal reduces Maori input into decision making by stripping them of their kaitiakitanga role as stewards of our environment.

Metiria welcomed the Government's decision not to legislate for crown ownership, but she is concerned that the proposal comes perilously close to a confiscation of customary rights.

"The Greens support responsible access to the foreshore, which is compatible with Customary Ownership governed by tikanga Maori and the concept of public domain.

"The clearest example is Lake Taupo, where ownership of the lake bed rests with Maori but everyone enjoys recreational access.

"Customary ownership does not provide for the sale of land in the way that freehold title and western forms of property ownership do."

Metiria is also disturbed by the timeframe for consultation over the plan.

"Seven weeks is a ridiculously short period for consultation over such an important issue. Maori have been waiting 150 years for justice but the whole country has a stake in the fair resolution of this issue. The Government is treating New Zealanders with disdain by trying to foist this settlement on us in just seven weeks.

"The speed of this process suggests that the consultation will be a sham and that the Government's mind is made up."

The Green Party is appalled that environmental concerns have been ignored in the consultation proposal.

"Responsible stewardship of our coasts is essential for a sustainable future," said Metiria. "That's something Maori have a major stake in. We want to make our coast the shared responsibility of all, for the private profit of none."

ENDS


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