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Helen Clark - An exercise in relationship building

17 December 2003 Media Statement

Foreshore and seabed: an exercise in relationship building

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that the government’s policy proposal for the foreshore and seabed was about acting in the best interests of all New Zealanders.

“New Zealanders from all walks of life have strong connections with the coastline, be they recreational, occupational or cultural,” Helen Clark said.

“The proposal we are presenting today sets out a new framework that integrates all rights and interests in the seabed and foreshore, within the existing systems for regulating activity in those areas.

“It is a sophisticated proposal which I believe will enable us to maintain our relative harmony as a nation, and so people need to read it carefully before they rush to judgment on it.

“The proposal is guided by the principles of access, regulation, protection and certainty, as well as the feedback the government received during the months of consultation since the Court of Appeal judgement in June.

“It provides for the foreshore and seabed to be held in perpetuity by the people of New Zealand, with open access and use for everbody. The Crown will be responsible for regulating its use on behalf of all present and future generations of New Zealanders.

“The decisions the Cabinet has made will ensure that the customary rights of Maori can be accommodated while protecting public access for others. In many respects it is an exercise in relationship building.
“Few New Zealanders would object to some recognition of the special status of Maori as the indigenous people.

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“It is a proposal which is strong on customary rights of Maori, while also preserving rights the general public has, and that will establish a sound basis from which we can move forward as a nation,” Helen Clark said.
“I repeat what I said in August when these proposals were released: we are resolving this issue in a principled and practical way which aims to bring all New Zealanders together.

“Today’s announcement is not the final word on this issue. It is a proposal which will next year form the basis of legislation, so there will be further opportunities for discussion in coming weeks.

“We will continue to engage with interested parties, Maori and non-Maori, so that we get wide and lasting agreement on how two sets of people can move forward in harmony,” Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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