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Catholic and Anglican Bishops on Foreshore Issue

Foreshore and Seabed Legislation

A Statement from the Meeting of Roman Catholic and Anglican Bishops

Catholic and Anglican Bishops, meeting in Wellington jointly on 22 October 2004, expressed support for the position taken by various church organisations in their submissions on the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.

“We wish to draw attention to the remarkable unity of their concerns and recommendations and ask that the Government, other political parties, and all New Zealanders allow time to consider carefully the principles which are at stake.”

The church submissions repeatedly state that the present legislation should not be passed in the face of its overwhelming rejection by Maori, as indicated by the consultative hui in 2003, and the submissions to the Select Committee this year. The Crown is required by the Treaty of Waitangi to act in good faith towards Maori, which must mean honest dialogue with Maori when their rights to property are at stake.

The submissions refer to the fact that many of the churches have been actively involved in raising public awareness of the centrality of the Treaty of Waitangi, and that commitment to the Treaty is fundamental to the well-being of our country, which is therefore harmed when legislation appears to over-ride Maori rights and interests.

The church submissions ask that political parties and their leaders move aside from fixed positions on this issue. They believe that a mutually agreed solution can be negotiated between Maori and the Crown. This would involve a willingness to leave aside the present legislation and enter into a longer and more open consultation with Maori in order to reach an amicable solution.

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