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Greens applaud Nat support of Maori rights

4 February 2005

Greens applaud Nat support of Maori rights

The Greens are delighted that National appears to be championing Maori customary rights over the foreshore and seabed.

National's Maori Affairs Spokesperson Gerry Brownlee announced in a debate on the Treaty of Waitangi last night that a National-ACT Coalition would repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act and allow any appeals to proceed through the courts.

"Presumably National's One Law For All policy means that Maori, as well as the Crown, may take their claims to the Courts," Metiria Turei, Green Maori Affairs Spokesperson, said.

"Mr Brownlee's announcement is fantastic. The Green Party has always supported the right of Maori to go to Court and gain collective customary title where it is proven. We welcome this announcement from the National Party which seems to support that long-standing Green position."

Ms Turei said she had found Mr Brownlee's comments - made at a debate at Otago University's Law Faculty last night - surprising, but she was pleased at National's apparent change of heart.

"Throughout the entire Foreshore and Seabed debate, the National Party, including its leader Don Brash, was firmly against any form of Maori ownership and advocated crown ownership. However, Mr Brownlee's comments last night indicate that this stance may have changed.

"If the National Party really is committed to allowing natural justice to proceed, and let Maori have the opportunity to gain customary title to the Foreshore and Seabed, we challenge them to make this official policy."

Ms Turei said National's apparent change of heart came at an ideal time, with Waitangi Day approaching and race relations rated in last night's TV3/TNS poll as the second most important issue among New Zealanders.

ENDS

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