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Govt questioned over claims to Northland coast

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, June 24 NZPA - Opposition MP Jim Anderton was told in Parliament today he was jumping the gun by asking how much of Northland's coastline would come under Maori customary title when the Foreshore and Seabed Act is repealed and replaced by new legislation.

Mr Anderton held up a copy of today's New Zealand Herald which carried the headline "Iwi seek northern jewels" and reported Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga could be early targets for iwi pushing for customary title under the proposed new laws.

It said five Far North iwi planned to work together to pursue title to the landmarks.

Mr Anderton, the leader of the Progressive Party, asked Attorney-General Chris Finlayson whether it was government policy to grant customary title to the entire Northland coast.

Mr Finlayson said it wasn't.

"It is the Government's policy to determine each application for customary title on its merits, assessing the facts of each case, and applying the tests that will be set out in statute," he said.

Mr Anderton then asked Mr Finlayson whether he could rule out iwi getting title to the whole Northland coastline.

"No one will be making any claim at this time because the law has not been passed," Mr Finlayson said.

"When the law is passed there will be an opportunity for interested parties -- be they iwi or, in some cases, hapu -- to enter into negotiations with the Crown or to exercise the court option."

ACT MP David Garrett wanted to know whether the granting of customary title over all or part of Ninety Mile Beach would permit Maori owners to prevent tour buses going onto it.

"I would not have thought so," Mr Finlayson said.

Mr Garrett later said Mr Finlayson was making up policy as he went along and couldn't guarantee anything.

"Surely the Attorney-General, of all people, is in a position to know what will be permitted or prohibited under customary title," Mr Garrett said.

"The most frightening thing is that he doesn't know."

NZPA PAR pw nb

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