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Maori customary rights enshrined in law

18 November 2004

Maori customary rights enshrined in law

Labour’s Maori Caucus members are urging Maori to take up the opportunities for protecting their rights provided in the Foreshore and Seabed Legislation passed this afternoon.

Chair Mita Ririnui says Maori caucus unanimously supports and welcomes the passing of the Foreshore and Seabed Bill this afternoon.

“It protects our interests. The Bill enshrines those rights in the legislation that allow iwi to identify areas of significance and to have a say in managing them in an appropriate and meaningful way.

"This is a defining moment for Maori. The Act sets out a framework that both recognises and gives effect to Maori customary rights. There is now a straight forward process for customary rights to be first recognised and then protected.

“Maori Caucus looks forward to whanau, hapu and iwi using the Act as an opportunity because for the first time in our history, indigenous customary rights are now protected. There is also enough flexibility to allow tikanga Maori to be applied and recognised on an iwi by iwi basis," says Mita Ririnui.

There are no explicit limits on redress options, but the reserve option can be actioned immediately and there is a clear legal process for establishing it.

“It was essential that this issue was resolved in a timely fashion. Protecting the rights of Maori is too important to be left on the backburner. We’ve seen that before and we knew Maori would not stand for that again.”

“Given the choice between clear, certain rights now or years of uncertainty battling in the Courts – we knew it was essential that we get the legislation through so that Maori can get on with having their rights recognised and protected,” Mita Ririnui said.

Nanaia Mahuta has accepted and voted for the third reading of the Bill following the changes made during the committee stages of the debate.

“Nanaia has made a political judgement to support the Bill, acknowledging the changes that have been made. She believes that the Bill is the strongest it is able to be at this point in time.

"It is important for whanau, hapu and iwi to also note that not one more acre of seabed or foreshore will be sold off into private ownership.

"We are proud to be part of a government that has not swayed from recognising the customary rights of the tangata whenua of this country," says Mita Ririnui.

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


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