May 19, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Hear the Roar of the Ocean: The Seabed & Foreshore is still Maori land!

4 min read

It has been 6 years since Maori were collectively ripped off. With the passing of the Seabed and Foreshores Act (2004), the then-Labour Government showed Maori why we often have problems with the Parliamentary system and today, the National Government demonstrate how deceptive consultation can be. For when all is said and done, will Maori be any better off?

ePanui2At many hui back in 2003, Maori collectively stood to recite whakapapa linking hapu with Tangaroa, chanted karakia that respected the role and place of Hinemoana and prepared submissions to meet the force of the Governments actions, detailing the intimate connections between the people, the lands and the waters. Despite the bullying tactics of Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, thousands of us met, talked, planned and set off on a spiritual Hikoi to remind the country that before Pakeha law had intervened, Maori lore lay paramount.

The eventual law looked like a stale-mate position, where no one seemed happy with the Government, though they sat smugly in a commanding position. The very next year, Labour was removed from office and the new Nationally-led regime inherited the Seabed and Foreshores Act. The Maori Party pushed its promise of reviewing the Act, though some wanted a different starting point that Maori still maintained use and ownership over the seabed and foreshore.

So as you read this, the National Government is taking their message of compromise to marae across the country, in the hope that Maori will give up ancestral rights to the seabed and foreshore of Aotearoa and give those rights either to the Government or to the Public, who for all intents and purposes, still smells like the Government.

The Attorney-General Chris Finlayson has had no luck in pushing his 4 options at any of the planned hui (there are 20 in total); these being:

Option one: Crown notional title
The Crowns absolute title would be replaced with a notional title. Any customary title that was extinguished by the 2004 Act would be restored. Where customary interests are investigated and found not to amount to customary title, the Crowns notional title would become absolute ownership.

Option two: Crown absolute title
The Crown would continue to hold its absolute title. There would be tests for the recognition of (former) territorial and non-territorial customary interests of coastal hap?/iwi. If either test were met, the Crowns title would remain unaffected. Proven customary interests could be recognised through certain statutory awards. The tests and awards could be set out in legislation and applied either by the courts or through negotiation. The tests and awards could be the same as those proposed in Option Four below.

Option three: Maori absolute title
Ownership of the foreshore and seabed (except land in private title) would be vested in M?ori. There would need to be a process for determining who would hold ownership in any given area, and the rights of others.

Option four: A new approach public domain/takiwa- iwi whanui
No one would own (ie, by freehold title) the foreshore and seabed (except existing land held in private title). Instead of identifying an owner of the public foreshore and seabed, legislation would specify roles and responsibilities within it. The Crown and local government would continue to have regulatory responsibility. The area would be named public domain/takiw? iwi wh?nui.

Thus far, all options have been rejected by Maori and so they should. Despite the clever way the Government has sought an eloquent solution, it is still confiscation by any other name. Why else is Private Land not subject to these rules? Why else are Harbours, Ports and Marinas exempt from these laws? And why should Maori have ancestral connections tested in Court and defined by Parliament?

Though the turn out to these hui have been less than those in 2003-5, the intensity is still there and the positions put forward by hapu and iwi still remain the same the seabed and foreshore is still Maori land.

So whanau ma have you attended these hui? What did you say? And for that matter, do you think the Government is listening? We would very much love to hear your korero.

Finally, now as then, we encourage you all to keep listening, to keep reading and to put forward your opinion. The Iwi Leaders Forum have released a discussion document. Moana Jackson has also put forward 2 Primers on the Seabed and Foreshores. We all know that our silence means consent to the Government, so it is crucial that we all keep informed and that we never lose sight of our whakapapa and our unique role in respecting and protecting the takutai moana.

NOTE: We will be opening a special page following this current process soon.

7 thoughts on “Hear the Roar of the Ocean: The Seabed & Foreshore is still Maori land!


    Maori Party MP Hone Harawira wants the Government to spend more time developing a replacement for the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

    Attorney General Chris Finlayson this weekend completed a round of consultation hui on his plans for declare the coast a public domain, while offering Maori a way to establish customary rights to parts of it.

    Mr Harawira believes hapu and iwi will be able to establish those rights throughout the country, so more thought needs to be put into managing those rights.

    “ How do you manage differences between hapu and hapu? Are the infrastructures in place to deal with things like access permits? Who manages the use rights and on what basis? What will be the relationship between iwi and local bodies? And is it going to be iwi who manage it, or will it be hapu? All of those things have yet to be worked out,” Mr Harawira says.

    He says it could take another couple of years to come up with a suitable management system.

  2. Foreshore plan fails consultation test

    Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says the Government’s plan to put the foreshore and seabed into the public domain is unacceptable to Maori.

    A round of consultation on the proposed replacement of the Foreshore and Seabed Act wound up with a hui in the Hokianga on Saturday.

    Mr Harawaira, who has attended several of the hui around the country, says there has been a clear message coming through for Attorney General Chris Finlayson.

    “The word is the same. Thank you very much for repealing this legislation. It was bad legislation. It was racist legislation. Thank you very much for restoring our right to go to court, which is a right that all New Zealanders have. On the third point, the title issue, we think that you are doing your best but we would rather it was back in Maori hands,” Mr Harawira says.

    He’d like to see more time taken developing a replacement structure for Maori to manage their interests in the foreshore and seabed.

  3. Hauraki Maori say they support the repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act but have warned the Government its replacement will be scrutinised closely.

    Attorney-General Chris Finlayson is attending a nationwide series of meetings seeking feedback on plans to review the 2004 legislation.

    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.

    Under the Government's proposal, the current law would be repealed, bringing to an end Crown ownership. Instead, the foreshore and seabed would become public domain land, administered by a combination of the Crown, local authorities and iwi.

    Maori interests could be established either by direct negotiations with the Crown or through the courts.

    The Government's 10th consultation hui was held at Paiohauraki Marae, near Paeroa, on Friday.

    The chairman of the Hauraki Maori Trust Board, Toko Renata says his iwi believes Maori own the foreshore and seabed, and any change to the law needs to recognise Maori culture and the Treaty of Waitangi.

    "We've never denied people access to the foreshore. I'm open-minded – I hope we can resolve something there for the benefit of not only the Hauraki people, but also the Pakeha people too."

    Mr Renata returned his Queen's Service Medal to the Government in 2003 as a protest over foreshore and seabed legislation.

    The final hui will be held at Omapare in Hokianga on Sunday.

  4. A Nga Puhi elder has told the Government the proposal that no one should own the foreshore and seabed is a cultural insult.

    The last in a series of consultation hui on the proposed repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act has concluded in Northland.

    The Government is proposing a repeal of the 2004 Act, the removal of Crown ownership and a declaration that no-one may own the foreshore and seabed.

    It would also allow for Maori to prove or negotiate customary title in some areas and provide for public access.

    About 150 Nga Puhi people attended what Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson called a vigorous hui at Omapere on the shores of Hokianga Harbour on Saturday.

    Many speakers said the Government should go back to the starting point of the Treaty of Waitangi and give recognition to Maori ownership of the foreshore.

    A leading Hokiana elder John Klaricich said the Government proposal would divide hapu rather than recognise their common customary interest and responsiblity for the foreshore and seabed.

    He said to give the general public interest a similar weighting would be culturally insulting.

    Other speakers at the Hokianga hui said Maori should have ownership of the foreshore and seabed, with the creation of a tupuna, or ancestral title, which could not be sold or alienated.

    Chris Finlayson says the issues in the North are complicated by unresolved treaty issues.

    He says the most contentious themes emerging from the series of hui were the tests for determining customary title and the possibility of creating the foreshore and seabed as public domain.

    Mr Finlayson says while Maori have raised many issues about the proposed changes they have done so with class and civility.

    He has previously said that if Maori do not agree on the final makeup of legislation to replace the Foreshore and Seabed Act, the act will not be replaced.

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