No deal on foreshore public domain

Last updated 16:13 06/06/2010

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Maori will refuse to forgo their rights to the foreshore and seabed and see it vested in public domain unless private owners do the same, Ngai Tahu chairman and member of a Maori iwi leadership group Mark Solomon says.

The Government has agreed to repeal Labour's foreshore and seabed legislation, which put the areas in Crown ownership.

A ministerial review found that the Foreshore and Seabed Act was unfair and said that was because it removed property rights available to Maori.

This year the Government said its preferred option to replace the legislation was to declare it a public domain, which no one can own, while reasserting the right of Maori to seek customary but not freehold title through the courts.

Mr Solomon said the leadership group met on Friday and unanimously rejected the public domain proposal and agreed to seek assurances that past Treaty breaches were not used to extinguish rights.

"We refuse to forgo all of our rights and put our rights to the foreshore under the public domain, as long as there are still 12,500 titles sitting there, private titles to the foreshore," he told the programme.

"If you put them into the public domain, then iwi will have the discussion about putting all of our rights into the public domain."

Maori also wanted an "absolute assurance" past breaches were not used against them.

He gave the example of land in Kaikoura which Ngati Kuri had wanted set aside as reserves under the Treaty. The Crown refused because the land had already been leased to European settlers.

"Under the current proposal the families of Kaikoura have absolutely no rights to the foreshore seabed because of that illegal taking of our lands in 1859, which is fully acknowledged in our land claim, but completely forgotten and will be put on the table to extinguish our rights today. We will not accept that."

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- NZPA

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