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Not much of foreshore will come under Maori title - Finlayson

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Chris Finlayson
Chris Finlayson

Wellington, June 16 NZPA - The Government expects very little of the foreshore and seabed will end up under Maori customary title through the claims process in the legislation that will replace the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson told Parliament today iwi would be able to make claims and if they succeeded their customary titles would carry development rights and the ownership of minerals except for gold, uranium, silver and petroleum, which are owned by the Crown.

A criteria for claiming customary title is continuous use and occupation since 1840, and Mr Finlayson was asked how much of the foreshore and seabed he expected would be subject to customary titles.

"I believe we are not talking about very much at the end of the day I do not believe it is going to result in very much more of the foreshore and seabed being the subject of customary title," he said.

ACT MP David Garrett wanted an assurance that customary title would not be granted over any parts of Ninety Mile Beach, Raglan Beach, Wainui Beach, Ohope Beach or Piha Beach.

"I don't think it would be helpful to get down to that level of detail in answer to a parliamentary question," Mr Finlayson said.

Mr Garrett also wanted to know how long Mr Finlayson thought it would take for the Crown, the courts and iwi to determine the number and extent of customary titles.

"As long as it takes to get a just result," Mr Finlayson said.

"You don't determine the quality of justice by the speed with which things are done."

The Government and the Maori Party announced on Monday that the Foreshore and Seabed Act would be repealed and replaced with legislation that had been negotiated with iwi leaders.

Under the agreement the foreshore and seabed will be taken out of Crown ownership and will become public space.

Iwi will be able to claim customary rights or customary title through negotiations with the Government or by taking their case to the High Court.

Public access will continue to be guaranteed and existing private titles will not be affected.

Although the Maori Party leadership has embraced the new legislation, one of its MPs, Hone Harawira, isn't happy with it and has accused Prime Minister John Key of "pandering to rednecks".

Mr Harawira told reporters today Mr Key had chosen not to go further and grant Maori title to the foreshore and seabed.

He said he wasn't breaking ranks with the Maori Party because the replacement legislation was better than existing law.

"We had no rights whatsoever and no access to the courts. We have that sorted out, my view if just that I think we could have gone further," he said.

Mr Harawira said that when the replacement legislation was drafted he would study it and take it back to the people in his Te Tai Tokerau electorate.

"I'll ask them what they think I should be doing," he said.

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