26 Sep 2008

Maori excluded from seabed extension - Green MP

6:42 am on 26 September 2008

Green MP Metiria Turei claims Maori were deliberately excluded by the Government from moves to extend New Zealand's continental shelf.

A United Nations commission has granted New Zealand the rights to control mining or resource extraction over an extra 1.7 million square kilometres of continental shelf seabed, on top of the four million km exclusive economic zone.

Ms Turei says the process of mapping the seabed had already started when the Government introduced a law stopping Maori pursuing claims to the Foreshore and Seabed through the courts.

Waatea News reports she said the Government now totally owns and controls the resource.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says there was no need to consult Maori or anyone else, because the Government was just applying for its legal rights under the Law of the Sea.

Legal division director Gerard Van Boheman says the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has set the outer limit of New Zealand sovereign territory and how those rights are then managed is an issue for New Zealand - not the UN.

He says fishing rights, which Maori have a share in through the fisheries settlement, extend only 200 nautical miles.