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Maori Party brushes off criticism of foreshore deal

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Tariana Turia
Tariana Turia

Wellington, June 15 NZPA - The Maori Party today brushed off criticism of the foreshore and seabed agreement by one of its MPs while in Parliament the Government said it had restored to a fundamental human right taken away by the 2004 Act.

Hone Harawira last night accused Prime Minister John Key of "pandering to rednecks" and said he should have agreed to put the foreshore and seabed under Maori title.

Mr Key and the Maori Party co-leaders announced yesterday the Foreshore and Seabed Act would be repealed and replaced with legislation which takes it out of Crown ownership, makes it public space and allows iwi to negotiate with the Crown or go to court to seek customary title.

Mr Harawira said he was "gutted" because Maori had wanted full title.

"You get used to that from Hone," Mr Key told reporters.

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

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said he couldn't speak for Mr Harawira.

"What he said isn't too bad really...the comments are his own," he said.

In Parliament, Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said the agreement restored to Maori the fundamental human right of access to justice.

Under the Act which is going to be repealed there is no way for Maori to seek customary title to the foreshore and seabed because it is in Crown ownership.

"They will be able to go to court or negotiate with the Crown for recognition of basic property rights, including customary title," Mr Finlayson said.

He said the Maori Party had been "at all times principled and very pragmatic" during 19 months of negotiations over the replacement legislation.

Mr Finlayson said Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, who quit the Labour Party over the Foreshore and Seabed Act and formed the Maori Party, had been an inspiration.

"In moving forward, New Zealand owes Mrs Turia a great debt," he said.

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