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Submissions on 'Foreshore and seabed: protecting public access and customary rights'

Update: in addition to the information mentioned below which would be especially helpful when writing your submission, is the Statement by Ngati Kahungunu on the government proposals on the foreshore and seabed, 12 September 2003 - in particular Part Four which puts forward alternatives to the government proposals.

18 August 2003

The government has today released its ' Foreshore and seabed: protecting public access and customary rights' proposals which are available on-line here.

Rather than legislating to extinguish customary title as had been initially stated by Helen Clark, which would have been outrageous enough, this has instead been achieved by stealth. The proposals have simply written customary title out, taking away the jurisdiction of Iwi and Hapu as part of the authority of tino rangatiratanga and subjecting their authority to the whim of the government.

As stated in the paper 'Some Core Values for Resolving the Foreshore and Seabed Issue', circulated earlier today:

"The concept of a subordinate 'customary title and rights' is an unjust and illogical remnant of a racist and colonising jurisprudence which has no place in a Treaty-based discourse of the 21st century;" and "The consequent notion of a Crown right to extinguish the tupuna title and rights of Iwi and Hapu, and the assumption that such extinguishment can be consented to, also has no place in the discourses of the 21st century." (Te Hau Tikanga, the Maori Law Commission)

The Ministerial statement on the government's proposals states that: "The principles on which the govt has based its proposal run to the heart of our nationhood. The details around how we secure them are being subjected to a sincere consultation process before new legislation is finalised."

The closing date for submissions on the proposals is Friday 3 October 2003 - how sincere is a process of 'consultation' which has such a minimal time limit?

Interestingly, the issue of dealing with the areas of foreshore and seabed which are in private ownership is still being considered by the government ... apparently some people's rights require time and careful consideration.

Below are the details of how you can make a submission, and the initial statements about the government's proposals from the Labour Maori Caucus, Tariana Turia, and Metiria Turei.

How to make a submission

If you would like more information, there are articles and statements available here and more are being added each week.

Particularly useful for any submission are the core values outlined in 'Some Core Values for Resolving the Foreshore and Seabed Issue' (prepared by Te Hau Tikanga, the Maori Law Commission).

Your submission can be made by:

- making a written submission to Foreshore and Seabed Submission, PO Box 55, Wellington;
- making an on-line submission
- fax to (04) 473 2508; or
- attending a hui or a sector group meeting or through your local Member of Parliament.

You can obtain further government material by telephoning 0508 Foreshore or 0508 367 374.

Labour Maori Caucus

Media statement,18 August 2003

The Labour Maori caucus has this morning met with a group of stakeholders, to report to them on our discussions to date with Ministers and colleagues on customary rights to seabed and foreshore.

As Labour Members of Parliament, we are part of the government and the Crown. While, as individuals, we are also members of whanau, hapu and iwi, we do not purport to represent the interests of tangata whenua on such significant and defining issues. That is the role of leaders with a tribal mandate.

In discussions on the seabed and foreshore, the role of the Maori MPs has been to advise the government how we perceive the issues, and to report on the opinions expressed to us by our constituents, in order to assist the government to reach its own position.

The outcome of our discussions with colleagues is to be seen in the government's discussion paper.

In our view, custom involves the mana and rangatiratanga of tangata whenua, and issues must be resolved between tangata whenua and the Crown. We understand consultations and negotiations are about to commence.

In these consultations, tangata whenua will be represented by their own leaders and spokespeople, not by the Maori MPs.

During these consultations, the Labour Maori caucus will continue to advocate for the interests of their constituents, in the same way as the other 110 Members of Parliament. We will assist our constituents to make representations to the Crown, and we will urge the government and the Parliament, as agents of the Crown and representatives of the public, to reach agreement with tangata whenua in accordance with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, for the benefit of all the people of Aotearoa.

From this morning's discussion, it is clear that any attempt to extinguish customary ownership of the foreshore and seabed will create huge conflict for tangata whenua. Our people have expressed that their interests are always compromised in the so-called public interest.

Tangata whenua cannot relinquish customary rights because they are part of a whakapapa relationship with ancestors which cannot be denied. This is the nub of the issue expressed in the meeting. Any attempts by the Crown to define customary title and rights that flow from that will be contested.

Our advice and advocacy will be guided by the following principles

- that the customs of tangata whenua, which prevailed over the whole of Aotearoa in 1840, are integral to the identity of tangata whenua.

- that, in signing the Treaty, tangata whenua welcomed colonial settlement, subject to the Crown's guarantees that their status and rights as tangata whenua were acknowledged and would be protected and, in addition, their people were guaranteed all the rights and privileges of British citizenship.

- that the common law, then and now, is supposed to protect customary rights until they are extinguished according to due process.

- that recognition of custom is an issue that will define the place of tangata whenua in the future of this nation.

- that customary rights and relationships have already been superseded by Crown title and private property rights in virtually every corner of the nation except the foreshore and seabed.

- that legislation which purports to define custom, or which limits the rights of tangata whenua to define custom in their own terms, in fact extinguishes custom.

- that customary land is collectively owned, not privately owned, and customary title is inalienable.

- that custom, unlike private property rights, provides for access by others, and tangata whenua generally have long-established traditions of granting permission for public access to seabed and foreshore (subject to certain restrictions, for example, to protect wahi tapu or to maintain the health of natural environments).

- that any development of the seabed and foreshore is a matter for negotiation between tangata whenua and interested developers.

Statement following government announcement on seabed and foreshore

Hon. Tariana Turia ,18 August 2003

``Our people expressed their views in the meeting this morning that their bottom line is the issue of ownership, and they did not want to compromise on that," said Tariana Turia.

"The issue of tangata whenua ownership is not addressed in the government's proposals, so there must be a question of whether the process outlined will resolve the issues that our people want to address.

"Customary rights is clearly a defining issue for tangata whenua. Many of our people have voted us in here to uphold a particular position. Our role is to advocate that position, and the Maori caucus has been united on that.

"If we, as the Government, take a different position then our people will no doubt believe they have been compromised. This will put all the Maori MPs in a difficult position.

"The government too is in a difficult position, trying to reconcile the rights of tangata whenua with the views of the wider public," said Mrs Turia.

Metiria Turei: Denial of customary rights unacceptable, say Greens

Media release, 18 August 2003

The Green Party is calling on the Government to recognise Maori rights in regard to the foreshore and seabed.

Green Maori Affairs spokesperson, Metiria Turei said today that the reduction of the term 'customary title' into 'customary interests' in the Government's consultation paper and Government prescription of what constitutes customary activity is an abrogation of the Treaty.

"Where is the good faith relationship?" Metiria asked. "This proposal reduces Maori input into decision making by stripping them of their kaitiakitanga role as stewards of our environment.

Metiria welcomed the Government's decision not to legislate for crown ownership, but she is concerned that the proposal comes perilously close to a confiscation of customary rights.

"The Greens support responsible access to the foreshore, which is compatible with Customary Ownership governed by tikanga Maori and the concept of public domain.

"The clearest example is Lake Taupo, where ownership of the lake bed rests with Maori but everyone enjoys recreational access.

"Customary ownership does not provide for the sale of land in the way that freehold title and western forms of property ownership do."

Metiria is also disturbed by the timeframe for consultation over the plan.

"Seven weeks is a ridiculously short period for consultation over such an important issue. Maori have been waiting 150 years for justice but the whole country has a stake in the fair resolution of this issue. The Government is treating New Zealanders with disdain by trying to foist this settlement on us in just seven weeks.

"The speed of this process suggests that the consultation will be a sham and that the Government's mind is made up."

The Green Party is appalled that environmental concerns have been ignored in the consultation proposal.

"Responsible stewardship of our coasts is essential for a sustainable future," said Metiria. "That's something Maori have a major stake in. We want to make our coast the shared responsibility of all, for the private profit of none."

Back to foreshore and seabed information.

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