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Foreshore agreement a disgrace - Greens

5 February 2008

Foreshore agreement a disgrace - Greens

The Green Party has received today's announcement of the Government's foreshore and seabed deal with Ngati Porou with great sadness.

The Government and representatives for Te Runanga o Ngati Porou signed a Heads of Agreement establishing Ngati Porou's relationship with the foreshore and seabed. It is the first such agreement to be reached under the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004.

"The Foreshore and Seabed Act was a confiscation and the legal elimination of the lawful rights of a group of New Zealand citizens," Maori Affairs Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"The Court of Appeal said that Maori were legally entitled to investigate whether their customary rights in the foreshore and seabed still existed. But the Government, who fought against the case, legislated to strip away that legal right. It was a calculated act of discrimination and confiscation, of the kind seen in the 19th and 20th centuries.

"The Green Party strongly opposed the foreshore and seabed legislation because it discriminates against Maori on the basis of race, fails to protect the ecological values of the coastal marine area, extinguishes common law customary title without consent and ignores rights guaranteed under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

"To announce this agreement to coincide with Waitangi Day celebrations is a further affront. As we consider the signing of the Treaty between two sovereign nations and the abuses that have interfered with its development, this announcement simply reminds us of the 21st century confiscation that took place.

"The Minister of Maori Affairs is fooling himself if he believes that today's Heads of Agreement is a major step towards protecting Maori ancestral associations with the foreshore and seabed. This signing signals the extent to which this Government will fight any attempt by Maori to have their customary rights acknowledged in law. The Minister once agreed that Maori should not have their lands confiscated - now he participates in that confiscation.

"Ngati Porou has little to celebrate either. The leadership failed to support the campaign to retain Maori legal and customary rights and have now reaped the reward for their acquiescence. This simply proves that divide and rule tactics, used for over a century against Maori, continue to succeed."

The Green Party is committed to the repeal of the seabed and foreshore legislation and supports Tariana Turia's member's bill, which seeks to do just that, Mrs Turei says.


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