27 May 2011

Iwi express interest in seeking customary title

7:07 pm on 27 May 2011

Two North Island iwi have formally expressed interest in seeking customary title under the new seabed and foreshore legislation.

The Marine and Coastal Area Act allows iwi to seek title to areas where they can prove uninterrupted and exclusive occupation since 1840.

The iwi are Te Rarawa in the Far North and Ngati Pahauwera on the East Coast.

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson says it is a very high threshold to prove customary title, but believes there are a few iwi which would meet that test.

Te Runanga o Te Rarawa chair Haami Piripi says his iwi is seeking talks regarding 90 Mile Beach and other areas, including Hokianga harbour. However, he says the daily use of those areas would change very little.

Mr Piripi says the legislation is untested, so it is not certain what can be expected.

ACT Party deputy leader John Boscawen says Maori will be able to restrict access to areas where they are granted customary title under the Act.

Mr Boscawen told Morning Report that under the legislation, iwi can restrict access on grounds of wahi tapu (a sacred or burial place).

However, Mr Finlayson says ACT is wrong to suggest this and the Government has simply restored the right of applicants to go to court.