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Protect both customary rights and access: Greens

Protect both customary rights and access, say Greens

The Green Party is promoting an approach to the foreshore debate in which Maori customary title and rights co-exist alongside protection of public access to the coast.

"The Government has been caught in a dilemma of its own making," said Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons. "It has made a knee-jerk reaction to the racial hysteria whipped up by National and Peter Dunne.

"NZ was founded on the bringing together of two cultures and world views - Maori and Pakeha. We should aim at protecting both rather than extinguishing one in favour of the other.

"A model for a possible solution already exists in Lake Taupo, where Maori have title and all New Zealanders have recreational access.

"This is why I informed the Government last week that the Greens would not support any legislation to extinguish customary Maori title. However, I have also told them that we would support a simple amendment to the Te Ture Whenua Act to clarify that customary title to the foreshore and seabed could not be turned into individual freehold and potentially sold.

"The only way to resolve this now is genuine good faith discussions around how to protect both Maori title and rights, and public access. This cannot possibly be done in seven weeks. The time frame is so short that it suggests a predetermined outcome.

"If we are going to be 'two peoples, one nation' as envisaged by the Treaty, the starting point must be to protect both customary title and public access.

"We can then negotiate about how to share commercial rights," said Ms Fitzsimons. "There are already precedents for this, with a defined share of fishing quota going to Maori.

"Ultimately Maori rights are about a share in decision making. There needs to be a shift in Government attitude and practice to go beyond 'consultation' - which allows Maori views to be ignored in the end - to shared decision making. This is the challenge of the 21st century if we are to live in harmony in this country."

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