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Access guaranteed for all New Zealanders - PM

7 April 2004 Media Statement

Access guaranteed for all New Zealanders

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that the government’s foreshore and seabed policy guarantees access to the foreshore and seabed for all New Zealanders.

“Free use of the seashore and beaches is an integral part of New Zealand culture,” Helen Clark said.

“The government will table legislation tomorrow which ensures that the foreshore and seabed is preserved for the people of New Zealand by revesting ownership in the Crown in perpetuity and ensuring that it is full legal and beneficial ownership.

“The legislation also provides for recognition of the ancestral connection Maori have with particular areas of the foreshore and seabed, and for the recognition and protection of existing customary rights.”

Helen Clark said the bill fulfils the government’s objectives of guaranteeing access to the foreshore and seabed and protecting customary rights.

“The government is not prepared to see new exclusive private property title created over the foreshore and seabed. Nor would such a development be acceptable to most New Zealanders.

“Ownership of the foreshore and seabed has long been considered to lie with the Crown. These areas are important to all New Zealanders and everyone must be able to use and enjoy them now and in the future.

“Since this issue arose last June, the government has undertaken an exhaustive process of policy development.

“We have consulted extensively on discussion documents. We have published, consulted on, and further refined policy proposals. We have participated in Waitangi Tribunal hearings. Today we are announcing the government’s policy which will be contained in the legislation being tabled in Parliament tomorrow.

“This has been a contentious and difficult issue and not everyone will be satisfied. The policy does, however, meet the four principles that we set down last August:
- Access – There should be open access for all New Zealanders.
- Regulation - The Crown is responsible for regulating the use of the foreshore and seabed, on behalf of all present and future generations of New Zealanders.
- Protection - Processes should exist to enable Maori customary interests in the foreshore and seabed to be acknowledged, and specific rights to be identified and protected.
- Certainty - There should be certainty for those who use and administer the foreshore and seabed about the range of rights that are relevant to their actions.

“I said last year that the government wants a win-win outcome for all New Zealanders. The legislation being tabled tomorrow provides for that.

“The legislation will go through a full select committee process,” Helen Clark said.


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