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Foreshore and Seabed - Draft Principles

11 August 2003

Press Release

Te Ope Mana a Tai was established at the request of Te Tau Ihu Iwi following their successful appeal to the Court of Appeal. That decision raises a number of issues with regard to legislation and policies that deal with the coastal marine area.

Consequently the Government has questioned its assumption that it owns the foreshore and seabed of New Zealand. We understand that the Government will soon be releasing proposals that address some of the issues raised by the Court of Appeal decision.

The draft principles set out below are part of a draft discussion paper that Te Ope Mana a Tai will be releasing shortly. These are only draft principles that reflect our current thinking. They are intended to help Iwi/hapu formulate a framework to respond to the Government.

Te Ope Mana a Tai would like other Iwi/hapu to join us to develop a framework. We would like to hear your views and receive your feedback when the draft is released.

We the members of Te Ope Mana a Tai state that our customary rights in respect of the coastal marine area include, but are not limited to, self governance (control, regulate, manage, and allocate), development (both in a cultural and economic sense), exclusivity (being able to exclude in accordance with tikanga, i.e. rahui), use (in its many forms) and access. These rights are derived from mana and are expressed through tikanga. These customary rights give rise to the following principles upon which we wish to engage with the Crown.

It is not for the Crown to determine the nature and extent of customary rights but rather it must respect those rights held by Iwi/hapu.

New Zealand was held by Iwi/hapu under their mana according to their tikanga. The Treaty confirmed their rights to all New Zealand and established a relationship between Iwi/hapu and the Crown to give effect to those rights.

Historically there has been a systemic failure to appropriately and substantively recognise, protect and enhance the customary rights of Iwi/hapu. However, we would oppose any move by the Government to change the present mechanisms by which tangata whenua customary rights are recognised, without first obtaining the input and consent of Iwi/hapu to any change.

We will oppose any process that fails to adequately recognise, protect, and enhance the customary rights that Iwi/hapu hold in the coastal marine area and the development right that flows from those customary rights, such as aquaculture.

We believe that customary rights should be recognised, protected and provided for in all legislation and policy that applies to the coastal marine area.

Any redress, reform or policy initiative that recognises, protects, and enhances customary rights should not undermine any existing settlement that relates to the coastal marine area, for example the provision within the Ngai Tahu Settlement to a set percentage of any coastal space that is tendered.

We will continue to allow public access to the beach for private recreational use. Statements have been made by the Government that it will take away the right of Iwi/hapu to control access. We believe such an act would amount to an extinguishment of the right of Iwi/hapu to exclude on the basis of tikanga. The removal of a customary right requires the agreement of Iwi/hapu.

Iwi/hapu customary rights include both a development and a commercial component, which must be recognised and given effect to.

Customary rights have priority over all other uses in the coastal marine area.

We do not agree that the short legislative time frame signalled by the Crown is sufficient to consider such a longstanding and complex issue.

The Crown should delay its current legislative agenda until an agreed open and principled process has been established between Iwi/hapu and the Crown.

Where areas of foreshore and seabed have been taken by legislative action or otherwise unfairly acquired by the Crown any loss of customary rights that has resulted may be Treaty grievances that the Crown should move to address as matter of urgency through the Treaty settlement process.

A pre-emptive move by the Crown to curtail the scope of Iwi/hapu rights in the coastal marine area will create a significant Treaty grievance.

Where to from here?

Te Ope Mana a Tai will shortly circulate a discussion paper that includes the above draft principles.

The draft principles and discussion document will be made available here.

We would like to discuss and hear your views on the draft discussion paper and principles. Should Iwi/hapu have feedback, views or ideas that they think Te Ope Mana a Tai should hear we are happy to come and talk 'kanohi ki te kanohi' at Iwi/hapu hui. We can also receive your feedback via email at email and a dialogue box has been set up here.

Te Ope Mana a Tai also ask that Iwi/hapu consider what your rights and tikanga are in relation to the coastal marine area so that you can develop an appropriate response to the Government's proposals when they are released.

Finally, on the 29th to the 30th of August there will be a hui at Omaka Marae in Blenheim to discuss the Te Ope Mana a Tai paper and formulate and approve a tangata whenua framework.

Te Tau Ihu Iwi

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