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Labour Tries To Snooker Pakeha Concerns

Labour Tries To Snooker Pakeha Concerns

Monday 18 Aug 2003 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Treaty of Waitangi & Maori Affairs

ACT New Zealand Maori Affairs Spokesman Stephen Franks today accused Labour of trying to snooker concerned pakeha who respect the rule of law, and the role of the courts in it, by shifting the real decision on seabed and foreshore to the Maori Land Court.

"The Maori Land Court is not highly respected by many Maori, and it is not the body that should be determining, what will effectively be, property rights over space held for all New Zealanders," Mr Franks said.

"The Maori Land Court has been left with second or third grade resources for many years. The chief judge has been compromised by his role as acting Waitangi Tribunal chairman, a politicised post.

"Reverence for property rights - or even a clear understanding of how vital they are to Maori and pakeha prosperity - is hard to expect when Attorney General Margaret Wilson appointed as judge an activist, whose writings suggest more interest in crusading than in upholding unambiguous property rights.

"The proposal that the Maori Land Court can grant customary rights interests is the victory that realistic Maori were seeking. It is exactly what the Court of Appeal seems to think should happen.

"The fact that these rights can now be granted over spaces that the Crown says no one will own - renouncing even its own title - just makes it more straightforward. These new rights can be as good as ownership, if the court is cunning enough to use words to allow the use and enjoyment of the areas without words that mean `ownership'.

"Decisions on seabed and foreshore interests should not be made by a specialist court whose existence shouts the application of different laws for different peoples.

"Seabed and foreshore should be governed by one law, applied by the same court that has jurisdiction over all of us for everything else, without discrimination on the grounds of race. Of course, the High Court should call on the special expertise of Maori Land Court judges for expert assistance in interpreting custom," Mr Franks said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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