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Seabed And Foreshore Shambles

Seabed And Foreshore Shambles

Wednesday 3 Mar 2004 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Treaty of Waitangi & Maori Affairs

ACT New Zealand Maori Affairs Spokesman Stephen Franks today predicted that Labour would be forced to abandon its plan to give Maori customary title over most of New Zealand's coastline.

"It's a goner when neither Helen Clark, Michael Cullen or Margaret Wilson can now explain just why they were going to give it, what it would confer, and how it relates to anything in last June's Court of Appeal seabed and foreshore decision," Mr Franks said.

"Today in Parliament, Attorney-General Margaret Wilson did not even try to argue that the Court of Appeal decision obliged the Government to offer customary titles. Ms Wilson was left to bluster about a Maori view that they had always had customary title over coastline. Incredibly, she said Maori were not asking for more.

"She stuck to the line that a customary title would not give Maori more than the Resource Management Act already required by way of special decision-making privileges. She couldn't explain why the seabed and foreshore package needed more.

"Dr Cullen babbled in responses to questioning on this topic last week. It degenerated to effective acknowledgement that no law or court went further than the possibility of rare customary use rights in a few places where an unbroken and exclusive exercise of those rights could support a common law claim. His bluff had been called after earlier statements attempting to implicate the Court of Appeal in support of the Government's plan to create customary title on establishment of `ancestral connection' and `mana moana'.

"Unfortunately for Dr Cullen and the Government, one of New Zealand's foremost Maori land lawyers had remembered a 1994 Maori Land Court decision that included the statement `We find there is no such and never has been until very recently a Maori concept mana moana; it has become the vogue probably since the fisheries settlements began. We are of the view that it is rooted in greed and ignorance not tikanga Maori. It has no place in the matter before us.'

"Ms Wilson could not tell us how any customary title of this could fit with Labour's post U-turn principle that race does not give privileges, only need. Why would coastal pakeha needs differ from the needs of coastal Maori?" Mr Franks said.

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