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Catholic Submissions Call for More Dialogue

Thursday 4 November, 2004

Catholic Submissions Call for More Dialogue on Foreshore and Seabed Legislation

Caritas, the Catholic agency for justice, peace and development has produced a publication which brings together submissions on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill made by Catholic agencies, religious congregations, parish groups and individuals from around the country. The publication coincides with the reporting back to Parliament of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Select Committee.

The publication, Catholic submissions and statements on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill includes 37 submissions and opens with the recent statement made by New Zealand’s Catholic and Anglican Bishops that expressed support for the position taken by the various church organisations.

In their statement the Bishops said, “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”

Caritas’ Research and Advocacy Officer, Lisa Beech, said the publication was primarily aimed at helping other Catholics with their own reflections and understanding of a difficult and contentious piece of legislation.

“This is one of the most difficult issues to have faced the New Zealand public through legal and political arguments in recent years. As a people who all love the sea and beaches, few of us would approach questions of ownership and access to coastal areas without strong emotions.

“The Select Committee’s failure to reach an agreement on whether the Bill should be passed and the 94 percent of submissions that opposed it, is a clear indication that more dialogue is needed before further steps are taken.”

ENDS

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