Foreshore and seabed information   |   No raupatu in our time!

Peters to sell Foreshore Bill on the road

17 November 2004

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters is keen to hit the road to sell the controversial Foreshore and Seabed Bill to angry Maori and distrustful non-Maori.

Parliament continued to debate the bill under extended sitting hours today and will continue until it is passed into law.

Yesterday the Government revealed changes to get the votes of NZ First.

Today it found Mr Peters is going to actively promote the bill that has divided New Zealand.

In Parliament he led the defence of the bill and the charge against those opposing it for different reasons.

"On one hand National is arguing that Maori get everything and on the other side the Maori Party (is) saying they've got nothing," Mr Peters said.

"Both are wrong and they know it."

He also turned on those he deemed to be Maori "extremists" who claimed to represent Maoridom and claimed ownership of the foreshore and seabed.

"I am sick and tired of Maori who have a record of selling land in their background coming along to those of us who haven't and preaching to us about keeping our tangata whenua, our whenua and our right to property," Mr Peters told MPs.

Outside Parliament, Mr Peters told NZPA he was going to Gisborne on Friday to sell the legislation to Maori and this would kick off a campaign around New Zealand.

East Cape Maori have a strong claim to some form of customary ownership of many parts of the coast as they have continuously owned land up to the high-tide line and used the oceans below it for generations.

They are in talks with the Government about their claims and under the bill are likely to get a Territorial Customary Rights Order, which would allow them to take a guardianship role of a Foreshore and Seabed Reserve.

Some have estimated up to 10 per cent of coastal areas could possibly meet the criteria for similar treatment.

"The reality is this, get out there and tell the people the facts and people will make their own minds up. I am confident of the outcome," Mr Peters said.

"I expect to get a reaction of surprise when they hear the truth for the first time."

Mr Peters said his party had "fixed" the legislation.

"We set out to ensure the foreshore and seabed is for everyone and we want the country to continue enjoying it as it has done in the past.

"We are seeing myths put up and nothing argued that is sound or based on law and I am going to go out and tell Maoridom and tell this country what they have been told is just not true."

Asked if his plans might backfire and see him lose support, Mr Peters replied: "Quite the contrary. I think the truth is always going to be popular in the end."

The marathon debate was marked by aggressive speeches from all factions, with National raising concerns about how the Foreshore and Seabed Reserves would work in practice.

National MP Nick Smith said it was inevitable that the reserves would see access restricted.

Two banner-wielding protesters in the public galleries disrupted proceedings for a short time before being manhandled out of the House.

The pair said they were from a Wellington group called Takutai Moana Poneke Collective and carried banners such as "Another Colonial Land Grab!" and "Shame".

Promised large scale protests have yet to be seen around Parliament, though security has been tightened in some areas.

Ian Llewellyn

'Race', 'Privilege', and 'The Treaty'   |   Peace Movement Aotearoa