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Withdraw your Bill Prime Minister

Withdraw your Bill Prime Minister

Revelations the Maori Party will demand that claims for customary title to the coast are made much easier before they agree to back the Marine and Coastal Area Bill should be the final nail in the coffin for this deeply unpopular Bill, says Coastal Coalition spokeswoman Dr Muriel Newman.

“The process has become a farce, and while media concentrate on Maori opposition to the Bill, they ignore the huge groundswell of opposition from ordinary New Zealanders which was evident in the thousands of submissions made to the select committee,” Dr Newman said.

“No-one wants this Bill.”

The Maori Party, who, along with Attorney General Chris Finlayson were the architects of the Bill, continue to claim the bar for customary title claims will still be too high and is now saying openly it will demand changes when Parliament resumes in the New Year.

“The reality is that this whole process has been hijacked by the Maori sovereignty movement which wants the resources of the coast – which belong to all New Zealanders equally - to be carved up and given to them. It is the biggest attempted resource grab in New Zealand history – and, unbelievably, the National Party is orchestrating it,” Dr Newman said.

“John Key gave his word that repeal of Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed would not go ahead if the public were not behind it. With the vast majority of the more than 4,000 submissions on the Bill strongly opposing it, the Prime Minister must honour his promise and withdraw the Bill.”

The test for customary title in the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act was based on the Court of Appeal’s Ngati Apa decision which indicated Maori might have customary title to the foreshore and seabed.

The 2004 Act required that in order for iwi to gain customary title, they had to prove in the High Court they had used and occupied the area continuously and exclusively since 1840, and that they owned the land contiguous (in the immediate vicinity) to the area under claim.

Clause 32 (2) of the 2004 Act states:

“…a group may be regarded as having had exclusive use and occupation of an area of the public foreshore and seabed only if—

(a) that area was used and occupied, to the exclusion of all persons who did not belong to the group, by members of the group without substantial interruption in the period that commenced in 1840 and ended with the commencement of this Part; and

(b) the group had continuous title to contiguous land.”

The new Bill:

• Drops the requirement for iwi to own the land contiguous to their claim,

• Drops the need for iwi to have used the area continuously since 1840 by allowing it to have been transferred from people not associated with the iwi - [clause 62 (3)(a)(ii) of the Bill states: the transfer was… from a group or members of a group who were not part of the applicant group to the applicant group or some of its members]

• Drops the need for iwi to have used it exclusively since 1840 by allowing others to have used it continuously for fishing and navigation (see SOP 167).

For more information see our website www.CoastalCoalition.co.nz

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