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Loose definitions plague seabed law

Loose definitions plague seabed law

"The Government's foreshore and seabed legislation is plagued by language that will fuel the Treaty industry for generations to come," says National Party Maori Affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee.

"Kiwis should not be conned into thinking that the Government has abandoned 'customary title'. The untested phrase has been substituted for 'ancestral connection' as confirmed by the Prime Minister.

"It's also accepted that 'ancestral connections' could cover virtually the entire coast. 'Ancestral connection' will give Maori "strengthened ability to participate in decision-making."

"It's impossible to argue that does not equate to greater rights for Maori than non-Maori over large sections of our coast.

"That 'ancestral connection' may be decided by the Maori Land Court according to 'tikanga Maori'.

"A search for the word 'tikanga' in Learning Media's on-line Ngata Dictionary returns 106 results."

Among them: code, condition, convention, culture, custom, depend, element, entail, ethic, fashion, formality, must, normally, order, procedure, purport, rights, ritual, style, suppose, trend and trick.

"Tikanga can also mean 'suit' as in 'suit yourself' and in golfing terms it can mean par," says Mr Brownlee.

"How can the Government write reliable, responsible laws when they include words which can be interpreted in a vast number of ways?

"It'll be a bonanza for Treaty lawyers and leave a vacuum that will be filled by extremists and continued judicial activism," says Mr Brownlee.

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