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Roundtable Welcomes Treaty Tribes Initiative

27 February, 2004

Business Roundtable Welcomes Treaty Tribes Coalition Initiative

The New Zealand Business Roundtable said today that the government and other political parties should consider very seriously the approach proposed by the Treaty Tribes Coalition on the foreshore and seabed issue.

Speaking on behalf of NZBR chairman Rob McLeod, executive director Roger Kerr said the proposal was well-argued, moderate and offered New Zealand a path forward on the contentious issue without the division current proposals were creating.

"The Treaty Tribes Coalition cannot be described as a radical or extreme organisation. It appears to be saying that Maori would accept any Supreme Court judgment against them but believes Maori should not expect more than the opportunity to negotiate should the courts rule in favour of them. That is surely a reasonable position."

Mr Kerr urged the government to think again on the issue.

"The Treaty Tribes' recommendations - which are similar in many respects to those of the Business Roundtable - are based on sound principles, in particular respect for property rights and the rule of law.

"The Business Roundtable supports the Coalition's view that the rule of law should be upheld, with the first step being an appeal against last year's decision in the foreshore and seabed case, following which the judicial process should be allowed to take its course."

In a submission on the issue in October 2003, the Business Roundtable said that the court process should be allowed to run because "[i]t is the proper role of the courts to establish the nature and extent of Maori customary rights". The submission argued that "existing private rights to the foreshore and seabed, including legitimate Maori customary rights to title (if any) and lesser common law rights" should be upheld. If the court process resulted in outcomes which the government judged were not in the public interest, it should intervene at that point and consider compensation for any takings of established property rights.

Mr Kerr also urged other political parties to review their positions in the light of the Treaty Tribes Coalition's initiative. "Parties which support one rule of law for all New Zealanders ought to be particularly sympathetic to the Coalition's approach", Mr Kerr concluded.


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