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NZ First Pleased To Reach Agreement

7 April 2004

NZ First Pleased To Reach Agreement
On Landmark Legislation

New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says his party is pleased to have reached agreement with the Government on landmark foreshore and seabed legislation which should preserve the coastal birthright of every New Zealander for centuries ahead.

“When the Government sought our help two weeks ago we set out the following conditions:
1. Foreshore and Seabed - to be vested in the Crown
2. Customary Rights for all - regardless of race.
3. Equality - before the same court in disputes.

All points were achieved and at our request, the following matters were also resolved:

1. Local authorities will now have status before the Maori Land Court, and the right to appeal from it. We intend that governments be kept honest in these matters.
2. Erosion of shore land to vest in the Crown is now removed from the Bill.
3. Legal aid is not intended to be accessed by the parties.
4. A time limit of ten years for applications for customary rights.
5. The issue of the register of interests is now satisfactory.

One of the key issues that we have achieved is the right for non-Maori to claim customary rights. For example, the Auckland regatta has been going since September, 1840 – surely a customary right and there are obviously others!

We wanted the words “public domain” removed from the Bill and they have been. That was our understanding from the start of the talks and this was no eleventh hour demand from us.

The phrase “public domain” would only lead to confusion and mischief. Those who demand it are using this serious issue to advance their narrow cause. We ask them to put the interests of the country first.

The words have also been described as meaningless. We agree - so why put them in the legislation for some activist court to misinterpret in the years ahead?”

ENDS

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