Attorney General, Chris Finlayson is rejecting a call by former ACT MP Muriel Newman that he step aside from the Foreshore and Seabed Act reform because he described her Coastal Coalition lobby group as "clowns".
In online articles, Mrs Newman has argued that Maori don't have customary rights because other people including Celtic, Chinese, Greek, French, Portuguese, Spanish and others were here first.
Mr Finlayson says there is argument in reputable forums that specific Maori groups retain traditional rights in some parts of the coast, and his task is to find a mechanism to recognise them properly.
Mr Finlayson told Waatea News he is planning public meetings to counter Mrs Newman's claims.
Mrs Newman told the Maori affairs select committee in Whangarei on Monday that the Marine and Coastal Area Bill would confiscate coastal land from public ownership so it can be transferred to iwi.