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Tribunal inquiry into seabed and foreshore issues

7 November 2003 Media Statement

Government welcomes constructive agreement on Tribunal inquiry into seabed and foreshore issues

The decision by Maori claimants to the Waitangi Tribunal to support the deferment of the Tribunal’s inquiry into the foreshore and seabed in favour of direct dialogue with the government was today welcomed by Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen.

The Crown had sought a deferral while talks with Maori were proceeding because the adversarial nature of Tribunal hearings could undermine efforts to establish a constructive across-table engagement.

“We welcome this confirmation by the parties that they value the opportunity to engage directly with the government,” Dr Cullen said. “In return the Crown will offer its full cooperation in meeting what will be a very tight timetable for a hearing now expected in January.”

The government met this week with Te Ope Mana a Tai and wants to meet with a cross-section of groups who are claimants to the Tribunal and have applications before the Maori Land Court. It also plans to have further discussions with local government and with recreational and environmental interests.

These meetings will run over the next month and will feed in to the decision-making behind the release by the government mid December of a detailed policy statement.

“The Tribunal hearing is now expected in the week of 19 to 23 January and will focus on whether the proposed policy is consistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. The government looks forward to receiving the Tribunal’s report before the expected introduction of legislation in early March,” Dr Cullen said.

He said there would be a further opportunity for people to comment at the select committee stages of the bill and that he expected the Tribunal’s findings would also be influential in the committee’s deliberations.

ENDS

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