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Hold Foreshore Bill Until After Royal Commission

2 April 2004 - For immediate release

Hold Foreshore Bill Until After Royal Commission Reports

The government has been asked to delay passage of its proposed foreshore and seabed bill until after the report of the proposed Royal Commission on issues related to the Treaty of Waitangi. The request comes from the organisers of a proposed new independent political party, provisionally named Advance Aotearoa.

The draft mission statement of the party is: "to unite all New Zealanders committed to the vision embodied in the Treaty of Waitangi, and who affirm the promise of that Treaty to respect the rights of all parties who were signatories, including the protection of customary rights of hapu, and the confirmation of equal New Zealand citizenship for all non-Maori settlers who arrived after 1840."

After registration with the Electoral Commission, the party contemplates fielding candidates in all Maori Parliamentary seats, as well as a panel of Maori and Pakeha as its list candidates.

The convenor of the establishment committee of Advance Aotearoa, Willie Te Aho, said today that the government will be putting the cart before the horse if it passes foreshore legislation prior to the deliberations of its proposed Royal Commission.

Mr Te Aho, a Hamilton lawyer, is the managing director of Indigenous Corporate Solutions. "When the government submitted to the Waitangi Tribunal its December foreshore and seabed policy, based on the 'public domain' concept, the tribunal found that the policy, in the tribunal's words, clearly breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi," said Mr Te Aho.

"The government cannot have it both ways. If it proceeds next week with foreshore legislation that has been found to be in breach of the treaty, then to proceed to the establishment of a Royal Commission becomes a farce. "

A Royal Commission on these issues has been proposed by the government and accepted by all other major parties except National. So let's have it, but not as the 'Claytons commission' it will be if it is precluded from considering a fundamental set of customary rights affirmed in the treaty.

"Far better to introduce the legislation so that everyone, including the members of the Royal Commission, can see exactly what the government intends, and then allow those intentions to be part of the matters to be reviewed by the Royal Commission, so that all parties can make submissions on whatever is troubling them. For the foreshore bill then to lie on the table of Parliament for another couple of years will be no great hardship, in view of the peaceful situation we have enjoyed around our coasts for the past 164 years.

"All that is required is agreement by all parties, the Crown, Maori and Pakeha, to be patient for those couple of years while the Royal Commission seeks to sort out how New Zealanders can together face the 21st century and beyond in the spirit of peaceful co-operation and preservation of the rights of all parties who were signatories to the treaty," Mr Te Aho concluded.

ENDS

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