10 Sep 2010

Legal aid for foreshore claims being considered

6:16 pm on 10 September 2010

The Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Chris Finlayson, says the Government is looking at allowing legal aid for foreshore and seabed claims.

Mr Finlayson was interviewed by Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell on the latter's weekly iwi radio show on Friday morning about the Marine and Coastal Area Takutai Moana Bill introduced this week.

He told Waatea News the Government is aware that going to court to prove customary rights can be costly.

Mr Finlayson says that while iwi or hapu must prove continuous use of an area to succeed in a claim for customary rights, the bill puts the onus on the Crown to show that a right has been extinguished.

Co-leaders accused of ducking questions

Meanwhile, Labour's Maori affairs spokesperson, Parekura Horomia, is accusing the Maori Party's co-leaders of deliberately making themselves scarce so they don't have to front up to tough questions about the bill.

Pita Sharples is leading a delegation to China this week, and Tariana Turia is at an indigenous conference in Hawaii, leaving Mr Flavell to front the party's response.

Mr Horomia told Waatea News that Maori are asking why there are only cosmetic changes to the status quo, and why there is an unrealistic six-year deadline for lodging claims for customary title to parts of the coast.