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Building bridges on the foreshore

Building bridges on the foreshore

The Foreshore and Seabed Bill is about bonding the nation rather than dividing it, Associate Maori Affairs Minister John Tamihere says.

Mr Tamihere said that the Appeal Court ruling that Maori were able to take cases to the Maori Land Court to determine whether they could obtain freehold title to the foreshore and seabed would have taken a huge amount of time to resolve and would have created prolonged uncertainty if the Government had not intervened.

"It would have created uncertainty in the minds of all New Zealanders over access to the foreshore. It would have created a sense of angst, unease and frustration over this level of uncertainty. Today we bring certainty, we bring closure and we bring justice to all our communities:

- The Government will assert Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed on behalf of all New Zealanders.

- Maori will be able to apply to the Maori Land Court to have their customary rights and the extent of those rights identified.

- Local authorities will now know what groups of Maori they should deal with by having them defined by the Maori Land Court by ancestral connection order.

- Should Maori still be dissatisfied they will have the right to apply to the High Court to have the matter of territorial customary title (aboriginal title) determined.

- In the event that Maori are successful in the Maori Land Court or High Court in proving customary title, they will be able to negotiate redress with the Crown.

- Any Kiwi, regardless of race, has the ability to achieve a territorial customary title and will be able to go to the High Court to seek redress.

This solution will not please the Ken Mairs or the Titewhai Harawiras, nor will it please the Don Brashes or the Gerry Brownlees - because it is a fair package."

ENDS

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