10 Apr 2010

Maori opposition at first foreshore and seabed hui

6:51 pm on 10 April 2010

The Government's proposals to replace the Foreshore and Seabed Act have run into opposition at the first meeting on the issue.

Attorney-General and Minister for Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson outlined the four options to change the legislation on Friday, including the Government's preference to have the foreshore and seabed become public domain land.

Mr Finlayson was attending a hui in Picton, the first of 22 meetings to be held throughout the country.

Maori attending the hui at Waikawa Marae raised concerns about having to prove customary rights in the Government's preferred option.

Mr Finlayson said the Government would restore the opportunity for iwi to test customary rights claims in the courts or by negotiation.

But several iwi representatives said that they should not have to prove their rights and that customary rights should be restored to what they were before the legislation was changed.

Meanwhile, Te Ati Awa deputy chair Joe Puketapu says the consultation period, to the end of the month, doesn't give much time for a co-ordinated iwi response.

The Marlborough meetings are significant, as it is where the public debate over the issue began, after Maori there felt they were missing out on mussel farming permits from the 1980s and 1990s.

They applied to the Maori Land Court for determination of the foreshore and seabed as Maori customary land.