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Key not worried about Harawira's comments over foreshore and seabed

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hone Harawira
Hone Harawira

Wellington, June 15 NZPA - Prime Minister John Key is not worried that Maori Party MP Hone Harawira thinks he is "pandering to the rednecks" over a proposed replacement for the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Mr Key and Maori Party co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia yesterday announced they had reached agreement on repealing the 2004 Act.

A new Act was likely to be in place by the end of the year, which involved removal of the foreshore and seabed from Crown ownership and making it a public space owned by no one.

The deal means Maori would be able to seek customary rights and customary title through the courts or by negotiating with the Government.

Mr Harawira said he was "gutted" the Government didn't agree to give Maori title to the foreshore and seabed.

"We were prepared to guarantee public access and no sale, to show non-Maori how committed we were to a shared deal," he said.

"I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that the prime minister wasn't bold enough to do the right thing and I'm disappointed he chose to pander to the rednecks, rather than give Maori the justice we deserve."

Mr Key today said "Hone was well known for being Hone" and no one was going to change him.

"You get used to that from Hone Harawira, I'm not going to take too much out of it."

Mr Key said he dealt with the leaders of the Maori Party and those dealings were "always honourable".

The Government wanted a solution that was enduring and for all New Zealanders, Mr Key said.

"I'm happy with the proposal that's on the table, I think it's fair, I think it's fair to all New Zealanders," he said.

Mr Key said he did not know if the Labour Party would support the new legislation but he expected they might.

"Of course there'll be people like Hone Harawira that are not happy but at the end of the day I'm not sure he ever will be."

Pakeha New Zealanders were welcome to be involved in consultations, Mr Key said.

There were hui held and submissions received, he said. There would also be a select committee process before the legislation was passed.

It would be difficult for most iwi to prove exclusive use and occupation since 1840 which was necessary win customary title, Mr Key said.

Exclusive use was not negated by someone else fishing in the area or being allowed to walk on the beach, he said.

Land-locked beaches would make the test easier, he said.

It was not the Government's job to change the test but to make sure Maori had access to justice, Mr Key said.

Labour leader Phil Goff said the repeal of the 2004 Act was "cynical ploy" by National and the Maori Party to save face.

Mr Key said there would be no real change and the Maori Party was talking up advances made, "they both can't be right", Mr Goff said.

It was too early to talk about whether Labour would support the bill, he said.

The Green Party would not support it, saying it failed, as did the original act, to protect the environment and was a confiscation of Maori customary title.

Meanwhile, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, who is not in Parliament, said the agreement was a "sellout".

The changes would "take ownership from the Crown, put it into no man's land or sea, which will leave it to squabbling iwi and courts to sort out".

Mr Peters predicted a "flood" of Treaty claims despite "the weasel words and spin" saying otherwise.

New Zealand was creeping to a racially divided state, he said.

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