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Crunch time in foreshore and seabed talks

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

Wellington, June 13 NZPA - Tomorrow could be make or break time in the bid to find legislation to replace the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Prime Minister John Key is due to meet the Maori Party in the morning, ahead of a cabinet meeting, to look for ways around the problems that beset alternatives to the Act.

The outcome is expected to be discussed by cabinet, and Mr Key will be asked about it at his post-cabinet press conference.

The Government won't repeal the Act until legislation is found which is acceptable to the Maori Party, and the Government's preferred option is to put the foreshore and seabed into the public domain so no one can own it.

Maori would be able to seek customary rights through the courts, but not freehold title.

That has been rejected by the Iwi Leaders Group which is negotiating with the Government, and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said on Friday the policy "may be a bridge too far for our people".

Maori Party MP Te Uruoa Flavell said agreement was close, but not close enough to satisfy all the parties.

"It would be disastrous if we weren't aligned with the Iwi Leadership Group," he said.

"However, we are a political movement and we have to make decisions in light of the information we have in front of us."

Repeal of the Act was a commitment the Government made to the Maori Party after the last election, but it won't do that until alternative legislation is drafted.

Mr Key said last week the Maori Party would have the final say, and there would be no repeal unless it accepted the Government's proposals.

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