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Government Should Stick Firm To ‘Public Domain’

Friday February 27, 2004


“The concept of the ‘public domain vested in perpetuity in the people of New Zealand’ is a very sound, fair, and bullet proof way of putting our beaches way beyond any future Government who could otherwise use them as an asset to be given or traded away – for example, as a part of future Treaty settlements,” says Bryce Johnson, Director of Fish & Game New Zealand.

“If the Crown doesn’t ‘own’ it, then the Crown can’t give it, or trade it away at some future time. We believe the Government should firmly reject any suggestions that it be watered down to Crown ownership, and unambiguously secure the foreshore and seabed as public domain by formally transferring its ownership to all the people of New Zealand.”

“This is why we have struggled with the logic of other parties who have argued in simple terms that ‘Crown’ ownership provides stronger protection of our beaches than ‘public domain’. We believe Crown ownership could potentially expose the foreshore and seabeds to greater future risk.”

“The difference between the words ‘Crown’ and ‘public domain’ are not a matter of semantics, but a critical constitutional point.”

“We do not favour ownership of foreshore and seabeds by either of the Treaty partners, Crown or Maori. Under a public domain concept the Crown would, however, be responsible for their regulation and day-to-day management on behalf of all the people.”

“Our belief is that the real issue needing intellectual attention is the matter of ‘customary rights/title’ and the possible consequences of such designation’s affect on the wider public interest in the foreshore and seabed.”


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