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Locked gate exposes sham of foreshore policy

Locked gate exposes sham of foreshore policy

A new gate erected to block access to the Wakapuaka estuary, near Nelson, and controlled by local iwi exposes the sham of the Government's foreshore and seabed policy, says Nelson MP and National Outdoor Recreational spokesman Dr Nick Smith.

"This gate illustrates just what the foreshore and seabed policy is all about. The promise of Crown ownership is a sham, with the new 'ancestral connection' and resource management provisions effectively giving control to Maori," Dr Smith says.

"This is not a case where there is private land between the road and the foreshore. The foresore butts right up to the road, yet the gate blocks access and is controlled by iwi. If it is appropriate to block access, then it should be for all and not some."

A protest rally has been organised for 4pm today by lifelong Wakapuaka resident Len Harvey. A petition will be launched at the rally.

Mr Harvey objected to the gate being erected without consultation with residents in the same week that the Government announced its foreshore and seabed policy.

"This is the safest access point for boat users between Port Nelson and Croisilles Harbour, covering nearly 50 kilometres of coastline," Mr Harvey says.

"Control of this gate is de facto control of recreational fishing. The reasons this gate has caused so much offence is that non-Maori boat users have watched as Maori have been given exclusive access with a key.

"This protest is our hikoi. I have lived all my life in Wakapuaka and used this access for my boat for 50 years. I should not have to go cap-in-hand to Maori to get access to our foreshore. I should have as much right as anyone. All we are asking is that non-Maori and Maori be treated equally."

Ngati Tama claim ownership of the estuary, which is disputed by the Government and subject to High Court proceedings.

Dr Smith says: "This area is hugely significant in the context of the nationwide debate over ownership of the foreshore and seabed, because this is were the debate began."

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