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Group Works To Resolve Foreshore Issue

Group Works To Resolve Foreshore Issue

The Government must delay its proposals for how it wants to resolve the foreshore and seabed issue until it has talked with Iwi, Te Tau Ihu Iwi (Marlborough Sounds) said today.

A spokesperson for the group of Iwi, John Mitchell, said that the Government was not making enough attempts to speak with Iwi groups about ways to resolve the foreshore issue and will leave itself open to future grievances if it acts unilaterally.

"It is impossible to gauge the nature of such customary rights and interests in the foreshore and seabed without discussion with the very people who hold those rights and interests," Dr Mitchell said. Te Tau Ihu Iwi had written to the Solicitor General seeking a meeting with Government Ministers to discuss the issues, but had received no reply.

He said that the Iwi of Te Tau Ihu and the Fisheries Commission had established a working party to formulate principles and proposals for resolving the issue. The aim is to develop answers to questions of ownership and customary rights, and formulate a process by which the Government can talk with Maori. These will be put to Iwi at the next National Hui.

Dr Mitchell said that Te Tau Ihu Iwi, which took the Court of Appeal case with support from the Fisheries Commission, will present some thoughts on this at the Commission's annual meeting on Wednesday 30 July.

"This joint work of Te Tau Ihu Iwi and the Fisheries Commission will be recommended to all Iwi as a principled and reasonable approach for resolving the issue of Maori customary ownership of the foreshore and seabed."

"All New Zealanders must be able to know where they stand. Right now uncertainty reigns and will remain so until this complex legal situation is clarified to the satisfaction of Maori and the Treaty partner - the Crown," Dr Mitchell said. "Almost two hundred years ago, a deal was brokered. That deal has in many instances been broken by the Crown. It has the opportunity today not to repeat the mistakes of the past with this issue."

Te Tau Ihu Iwi and the Fisheries Commission will be completing a discussion document shortly that will be forwarded to Iwi and interested parties, but Dr Mitchell said other Iwi might have their own thoughts about the way forward. "We hope that other Iwi will use this paper as a basis for forming their own ideas, so that principles common to all Iwi can be confirmed at a National Hui at the end of August," he said.

Te Tau Ihu Iwi are planning to hold a National Hui on the foreshore and seabed at Omaka Marae in Blenheim in late August.

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