4 Nov 2009

Compensation not sought in foreshore law - iwi

6:12 am on 4 November 2009

The leaders of two prominent iwi say compensation will not be sought under any replacement to the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Prime Minister John Key has signalled his intention to do away with the controversial Act, saying new legislation is likely to be passed next year.

Mr Key says the process will not be rushed and the new law will guarantee access to the beaches for all.

Ngai Tahu's chairman Mark Solomon says there would be no issue of compensation in the likely repeal of the legislation and he hopes repealing the Act will give Maori the opportunity to address misunderstandings about beach access.

Nga Puhi's chairman Sonny Tau agrees, saying his iwi would welcome any repeal of an Act he says denies Maori due legal process.

Mr Solomon says that while Maori must be allowed to uphold their role of kaitiaki, or guardianship, Maori have never wanted to exclude anyone from the sea.

East Coast dispute

But news of a possible repeal is bittersweet for some iwi on the East Coast of the North Island.

Linda Thornton represents the Ruawaipu, Uepohatu and Hauiti claimant groups, which have been at loggerheads with Te Runanga o Ngati Porou, which represents Ngati Porou hapu, over its Foreshore and Seabed agreement.

She says her clients never authorised the negotiation of that deal, but a Bill giving effect to the Deed of Agreement was introduced to Parliament in September last year.

Ms Thornton says the Government's signalled it intends to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act, but leave that Bill in place.

She says her clients would be happy to see the back of the Act, but are disappointed that the Ngati Porou agreement could still go ahead.

Auckland University of Technology treaty historian Professor Paul Moon says the Foreshore and Seabed Act is not only unpopular among many Maori, but also among members of the National Party caucus - whose views favour a move away from nationalisation and towards private ownership.

He says the current legislation has some loose ends and these will become more apparent if the Act is repealed.