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Seabed and foreshore policy a great step forward

17 December 2003 Media Statement

Seabed and foreshore policy a great step forward


The Government's seabed and foreshore policy announcement today is a great step forward for race relations, Associate Maori Affairs Minister John Tamihere says.

"Today's announcement reflects significant leadership by this government in moving us forward; it is a great step forward in our race relations and our nationhood story," Mr Tamihere said.

"The Appeal Court decision spurred us to rapidly move towards closure on the vexed issue of how local and regional councils will act in regard to Maori interests and rights. This announcement will bring certainty and clarity to those interests and rights, and it will enable all Kiwis to know who to engage with regarding those interests and rights.

"This is not an extinguishment of those rights – it is a recognition of them, and it is recognition in a Maori way.

"I support absolutely that there should be no notion of freehold or fee simple title to the seabed and foreshore. These rights are too important to be treated as a tradable commodity in this way. The recognition of rights in this announcement means that they are inalienable.

"The government's position will not please those who claim preferred treatment for Maori, or those who allege that Maori own the seabed and foreshore outright. This is a finely balanced system of rights that moves us forward positively."

Mr Tamihere, whose whanau holds customary rights over foreshore in the Coromandel, said he was satisfied that those rights, and similar rights of whanau and hapu groups around the country would receive full protection.

"The rights handed down to me by my father are now protected under a customary rights regime that he would be proud of."

ENDS

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