24 Apr 2010

Criticism for seabed and foreshore plan at final hui

7:55 pm on 24 April 2010

A Nga Puhi elder has told the Government the proposal that no one should own the foreshore and seabed is a cultural insult.

The last in a series of consultation hui on the proposed repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act has concluded in Northland.

The Government is proposing a repeal of the 2004 Act, the removal of Crown ownership and a declaration that no-one may own the foreshore and seabed.

It would also allow for Maori to prove or negotiate customary title in some areas and provide for public access.

About 150 Nga Puhi people attended what Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson called a vigorous hui at Omapere on the shores of Hokianga Harbour on Saturday.

Many speakers said the Government should go back to the starting point of the Treaty of Waitangi and give recognition to Maori ownership of the foreshore.

A leading Hokiana elder John Klaricich said the Government proposal would divide hapu rather than recognise their common customary interest and responsiblity for the foreshore and seabed.

He said to give the general public interest a similar weighting would be culturally insulting.

Other speakers at the Hokianga hui said Maori should have ownership of the foreshore and seabed, with the creation of a tupuna, or ancestral title, which could not be sold or alienated.

Chris Finlayson says the issues in the North are complicated by unresolved treaty issues.

He says the most contentious themes emerging from the series of hui were the tests for determining customary title and the possibility of creating the foreshore and seabed as public domain.

Mr Finlayson says while Maori have raised many issues about the proposed changes they have done so with class and civility.

He has previously said that if Maori do not agree on the final makeup of legislation to replace the Foreshore and Seabed Act, the act will not be replaced.