INDEPENDENT NEWS

Blueprint on Maori Beach and Seabed Claims

Published: Mon 23 Jun 2003 08:57 AM
Blueprint on Maori Beach and Seabed Claims
Prime Minister Helen Clark has told the nation that Maori Treaty claim privileges will not be allowed if they are against the national interest - I believe that the national interest in this matter is clear and the solution is straightforward, ACT New Zealand Treaty Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.
"The longer people are left worrying about the future of their mussel farms, their rights to use the beach, to fish, to boat, the worse it gets. The damage will not only be in projects stalled or abandoned, jobs lost, and lawyers fees blown," Mr Franks said.
"Maori-Pakeha relations will suffer. For more than a century, New Zealanders have believed that the foreshore and seabed were public property. Management of these has assumed that all New Zealanders have equal rights without race distinction.
"Labour will now be tempted to try and do ambiguous deals with Maori. They will try to buy off claims, without losing Maori political support, by making promises and giving rights that will seem to mean more benefit to each side than the other understands.
"I will be asking the ACT caucus, on Tuesday, for confirmation that we would vote with the Government if it brought in a package along the following lines:
· The law should confirm that foreshore and seabed are the Crown's, or held on grant from the Crown.
· That there is no future customary right in foreshore and seabeds.
· That proper property rights can, and will, be created in foreshore and seabeds to meet aqua culture needs, traditional fishing, beach access and other uses.
· They will have the normal property features: exclusive benefit, transferability, leaseability and permanence.
· Easements and use rights for recreational fisherman, passage of boats, swimming etc should be clearly recorded.
· If the Waitangi Tribunal or the Maori Land Court finds that there were customary rights, which this law has abrogated, that may be a Treaty claim for compensation, which can be dealt with as all other Treaty breaches.
"Our glorious beaches, harbours and waterways must not become cause for misery. When the law creates uncertainty, as the Appeal Court has now, it is for Parliament to immediately deal with that. I believe the Government will be able to count on ACT's votes to deal with this before it becomes a weeping sore", Mr Franks said.

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