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Progressives affirm shared rights of all NZers

Progressives affirm shared rights of all New Zealanders

The Progressive Party is committed to maintaining public access to the foreshore and seabed and believes that the people of New Zealand have always regarded the seabed and foreshore as part of their birthright and heritage.

"In a sense, it is a customary right of all New Zealanders to go to, and enjoy, the seashore and coastal waters," party leader, Jim Anderton, said today.

There are a few historical exceptions covering small areas, and the Progressive Party favours remedying these exceptions over time to guarantee public access as the private holdings established in the 1800s or early 1990s are offered for sale.

"The Progressive Party believes that Maori customary rights, particularly of hapu and whanau to continue to use parts of the seabed and foreshore that they have traditionally used for cultural or customary purposes, must also be protected. These customs should not be inconsistent with public domain - just the contrary. All kiwis share an interest in the continuation of the vibrant Maori culture that is an integral part of our New Zealand identity," Jim Anderton said.

The Seabed & Foreshore document released today affirms the Labour Progressive government's commitment to public ownership of the foreshore and seabed while also affirming customary rights of Maori. The Progressives support the principles articulated in the document and the Executive of the party will study the proposed technical details on how to implement the principles at its next scheduled meeting in late January 2004.

Jim Anderton said his party looks forward to the opportunity for open and rational public discussion on the principles and processes outlined in today's document that will take place in the Select Committee process and believes the Select Committee process may provide useful suggestions on the final detail of the Legislation expected before Parliament in March.

"Our most challenging goal is to push New Zealand up into the first rank of nations, and take every New Zealander with us. The more successful our economic development initiatives are, the less chance there will be for any political party or lobby group to try to create divisions between different sections of our community.

"New Zealand is a positive example to the world of tolerance and success when it comes to the management of what sometimes seem to be competing claims between different groups within our society. We must continue to enhance our reputation by the way we handle this issue as a nation," Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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