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Changes to Seabed Bill protect Maori interests

Changes to Seabed Bill protect Maori interests

Maori Caucus Media Statement

16 November 2004

The Foreshore and Seabed Bill as amended acknowledges the unique relationship Maori have with the coastline according to Labour’s Maori caucus members.

Chair Mita Ririnui says Maori Caucus members have advocated strongly throughout the entire process for the recognition of Maori customary interests and the right for Maori to have their day in court.

The High Court may grant a territorial customary rights order to Maori groups, which may result in the establishment of a Foreshore and Seabed Reserve. For those not seeking a reserve status, the High Court will be able to direct them to the Crown to discuss redress options.
"We believe the proposed amendments will recognise some of the most fundamental aspects that were raised during the Select Committee process.

"No fee simple titles will be awarded to Maori groups which reflects the views of the majority of Maori that appeared before the Select Committee," says Mita Ririnui.

"Maori caucus recognises that this Bill will not please the extremists. However we are confident that it caters to the wishes of the majority of Maori who take a more pragmatic view in progressing our development as a people."

“The Resource Management Act is currently being reviewed and will be strengthened to recognise more effective consultation with local Maori over coastal areas. Maori caucus believes this will provide stronger recognition of the traditional association of whanau, hapu and iwi with the coast than the ancestral connection orders initially provided for in the legislation.

“During the select committee process many submitters sought a longer conversation on the foreshore and seabed issue. However Maori Caucus believes this would have stymied aquaculture development projects that many coastal iwi around the country are exploring. As Maori caucus members representing a wide and diverse range of views we could not allow that to happen.

"Maori caucus members have played an active role in the discussions on aquaculture, in setting aside 20 per cent of all marine farming space for Maori interests. Therefore we believe it was important that this opportunity not languish for another decade in much the same way as the Treaty of Waitangi Fishing allocation process did.

"Maori Caucus is satisfied the Bill provides for Maori interests and we wish to acknowledge all of those who took part developing the legislation over the past 18 months," said Mita Ririnui.

Mita Ririnui, Parekura Horomia, Dover Samuels, Mahara Okeroa, Dave Hereora, Moana Mackey, John Tamihere

ENDS


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