7 Jul 2009

Foreshore and seabed compensation unlikely - PM

3:45 pm on 7 July 2009

Prime Minister John Key has all but ruled out compensation for Maori over the foreshore and seabed as he seeks multi-party support for a resolution to the issue.

The ministerial review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act raised the prospect of compensation.

Its report said Maori customary interests in the foreshore and seabed represented property rights and where such property rights were extinguished, in principle compensation should be paid.

Mr Key on Monday made it clear he does not favour compensation.

"There seems to be a strong consensus that compensation is not likely to be part of the process in settling the foreshore and seabed," he said.

"Lets go through each of the recommendation in due course in consultation with the other parties and see whether that finds favour with all of the stakeholders."

Maori Affairs Minister and Maori Party co-leader Peter Sharples says at no time was compensation part of the equation, instead it was a question of social justice and the rights of Maori.

He said he was "very relaxed" about the compensation issue. "If it's seen that a right was taken away and some compensation has to be paid, I would hope they'd play that down myself, because we don't want this to be a divisive thing."

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei and the United Future leader Peter Dunne oppose compensation, while Labour shadow Attorney-General David Parker says the party will work with the Government to find a solution to the foreshore and seabed issue.

Further options

Former Treaty Negotiations Minister Doug Graham says Maori would be better off cutting a deal with the Government over the foreshore and seabed than going back to court.

Sir Graham says it may be diffiicult to prove customary title in court and Maori may be better off working with all the parties involved to come to an agreement.

Maori educator, Professor Ranginui Walker, says there may be other options besides cutting a deal with the Government.

Professor Walker says Maori could establish their customary right and enter negotations with ministers and local bodies over the development of foreshore and seabed in areas where their land goes right to the shoreline.