11 Feb 2010

No ownership of foreshore and seabed an option - PM

7:11 pm on 11 February 2010

Differences between the Government and its ally the Maori Party seem to be widening over what to do about the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

The Government is negotiating with Maori leaders about what might replace the contentious act which focuses on the ownership and administration of New Zealand's foreshore and seabed.

Prime Minister John Key says a number of options are being discussed, including legislating that no one owns the foreshore and seabed, but that proposal has been rejected by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia.

Mr Key says he cannot be sure that will be the final proposal but will not rule it out, and believes that option would take the emotion out of the issue of ownership.

Mr Key has repeated comments he made at Waitangi Day celebrations that if Maori do not agree to the proposals the Government is making, then the act could be left in place.

Mrs Turia says the Maori Party does not support the concept of no ownership.

"I think that what people have talked about with the foreshore and seabed is this is an issue of justice. I still believe it's an issue of justice and should be treated as such."

She says her preference would be for Maori to be able to go to court or enter into direct negotiations with the Crown.

Mr Key says he knows he cannot get agreement from all Maori over any particular proposal to replace the existing legislation, but remains committed to trying to find a solution.