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Consensus Over Foreshore Possible Without Compensation: Key

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

Wellington, July 7 NZPA - Consensus over the contentious foreshore and seabed row might be found without compensation becoming an issue, Prime Minister John Key said today.

A government-appointed review panel last week released its report on the Foreshore and Seabed Act, recommending its repeal and saying interim legislation should be put in place until the politicians worked out a way to recognise Maori rights to coastal areas.

One of the options was for national and/or regional settlements, with compensation as a possibility.

On the weekend New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the review had been stacked to get an outcome that would see some Maori claiming ownership of coastal areas.

"It's a can of worms and for this country's long-term future it's disastrous," Mr Peters said.

"They're not arguing customary right as just a proprietary or a temporary right that can pass from generation to generation, they're arguing about title...they're arguing something separatist."

Mr Peters said some Maori activists did argue for exclusive ownership, Mr Key had been naive in his handling of the review and it would open years of relitigation of past settlements.

He believed the issue for some Maori was not mana, but money.

Mr Key said the preliminary reaction from most parties was that compensation was not an issue.

"I think you could characterise it by saying that there seems to be a strong consensus that compensation is not likely to be part of the process in settling the foreshore and seabed," Mr Key said

No one seemed to be seeking freehold titles, but it still had to be worked out what a customary right meant and what if any property rights went with them.

Mr Key said much of the issue was "restoration of mana" as the law had taken away the right for Maori to go to court.

"It's not about, I don't believe, compensation. It's not about freehold title, but is about their mana being restored."

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson would be given the task of talking to political parties to see if common agreement could be found before the Government made decisions in August.

United Future Leader Peter Dunne said New Zealanders would be willing to recognise customary title, but would be unlikely to accept another round of compensation.

The foreshore debate had been a sad chapter and most New Zealanders wanted to move on without repeating the mistakes of the past.

Mr Key said the Government would take its time in addressing the complex issues.

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