9 Nov 2009

National hui to kick off foreshore, seabed series

9:29 pm on 9 November 2009

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples hopes a national hui on Tuesday will be the start of an iwi-driven rewrite of the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Waatea News reports the hui in Rotorua has been called by the Iwi Leaders' Forum, which includes major coastal iwi such as Ngai Tahu, Kahungunu and Ngapuhi.

The national hui will kick off a series of regional hui.

Dr Sharples says now Prime Minister John Key has indicated the Government is willing to agree to the Maori Party's demand the Act be repealed, it's important to find an alternative acceptable to iwi and hapu.

He says he also expects contributions from academics and hapu from all around the country.

Ngati Porou settlement

Ngati Porou chairperson Apirana Mahuika says iwi leaders are welcome to copy elements of his tribe's foreshore and seabed settlement as they try to rewrite the controversial Act.

Mr Mahuika says his iwi's settlement is based on four key principles, starting with the acknowledgment of Maori spiritual beliefs.

"The second one is toitu te mana tangata te mana moana, and so toitu was a very, very key issue in terms of the principles that we laid because toitu means enduring, unbroken, inalienable and sustainable."

He says reform must also recognise Maori as tangata whenua, or the first people, and their unalienable rights as partners with the Crown under the Treaty of Waitangi.

Key's style 'contrast' with those before

A historian who's been part of the foreshore debate says repealing the Act would be a sign the National Party is finally turning its back on divisive politics.

John Mitchell of Ngati Tama was part of the group of the top of the South Island iwi whose attempts to confirm their customary rights in the coastal area kicked off the crisis.

He says John Key's conciliatory style has opened the way for progress and is in sharp contrast to his predecessors, especially the late Sir Robert Muldoon.