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Listen To Tribunal, Government Urged

Listen To Tribunal, Government Urged

The Treaty Tribes Coalition is urging the Government to seriously consider the Waitangi Tribunal's recommendation that the foreshore and seabed issue be allowed to be heard by the courts.

Weekend media have indicated that the Tribunal's report, due to be released tomorrow, describes the Government's policy as fundamentally flawed, in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi, as going against domestic and international law and as creating extreme uncertainty in New Zealand. The Tribunal is understood to recommend that the Government's proposal be scrapped.

Coalition Chairman Harry Mikaere said these comments were consistent with last month's Treaty Tribes' submission on the issue, One Rule of Law for All New Zealanders.

"There is now a growing weight of opinion against the Government's unconstitutional legislation, from groups as diverse as Iwi, Urban Màori Authorities, Labour's Màori Caucus, the Waitangi Tribunal, the ACT Party, the Green Party and the Business Roundtable," he said.

Mr Mikaere said the Government's proposed legislation was taking away the rights of a group of New Zealanders to have their day in court - rights which were last year upheld by the Court of Appeal in Ngàti Apa after eight years of legal argument at a cost of many millions of dollars. The Court said the substantive case could be heard by the courts but questioned how strong it might be. Beach access was never an issue.

"The Government is planning to breach extremely important constitutional safeguards inherited by New Zealand from the English common law. If the Government gets away with doing it to these litigants, it could do it to any New Zealander."

Furthermore, with the foreshore and seabed issue making both Pakeha and Màori bitterly angry, it was not in the interests of New Zealand's race relations that "divisive" legislation be introduced at this time, Mr Mikaere said.

The Treaty Tribes Coalition, which represents Ngài Tahu, Ngàti Kahungunu, Ngài Tamanuhiri and Hauraki Iwi, last month announced it would work with all political parties in Parliament to defeat the Government's "divisive" legislation, after its One Rule of Law for All New Zealanders submission was rejected outright by the Government.

The submission was based on the principles that there must be one law for all New Zealanders, and that all New Zealanders - Màori, Pakeha and Parliament - must respect the law and the proper roles of the different branches of Government. It urged the Government to allow the case to go to court to allow time for a proper judicial determination on the issues involved, while New Zealand had some years for "sober reflection".

The Coalition plans to launch an advertising campaign later this month against the Government's legislation, also based on the theme One Rule of Law for All New Zealanders.

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