May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

The Foreshore and Seabed, what will happen next…

2 min read

The repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act is hitting some significant snags as of late. Just recently it was announced that the Maori Party would have a veto right over the new legislation which seeks to make the foreshore and seabed a “public domain”.

The National Business Review has reported that this is the government’s preferred option is to remove the foreshore and seabed from Crown ownership and make it a public domain, which no one owns, while reasserting the right of Maori to seek customary but not freehold title through the courts.

The problem with the veto is that if the Maori Party disapprove of the new legislation the existing Act will not be repealed.

Several other issues have emerged which the Maori Party is uncomfortable with including the issues of private land which would not be considered in the new Act.

30% of the coastline of New Zealand is in private title and therefore is excluded in the existing Act and has been “ring-fenced” from any legislation that might replace it.

One of the reasons that the Maori Party went into coalition with National was contingent on the review and subsequent replacement of the Act. However the new Act would only allow for customary title and not freehold title, which is seen as a double standard considering the 30% of coastline which is already in private hands.

Iwi Leaders Group chairman Mark Solomon has questioned why the 12,499 private titles to the foreshore, including some owned by Maori, would not be included in the public domain when iwi were forgoing their rights.

The private titles were not included in the public foreshore and seabed as defined in the 2004 Act and would not be included when that land turned into public domain, a spokesman for Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson told NZPA.

Here are some facts:

  • Those 12,499 titles cover 5866.3km of the total 19,883km (including Chatham and Pitt Islands) of New Zealand’s coastline.
  • The foreshore includes the area of beach up to the average high tide mark — the wet area — while the seabed is defined by a 12 mile limit.
  • Above the foreshore there is a 20 metre area, known as the Queens Chain, which provides public access.
  • The 2003 memo also noted there were 33,712 parcels of land adjoining the foreshore.
  • Of those 37.64 percent were Crown owned, 31.42% were owned by territorial authorities, 20.05% general, 10.35% Maori and 0.54% unresolved.
    • The Crown land was largely used for national parks, railway and reserves. Land owned by territorial authorities was mainly used for esplanade reserves, recreation reserves and roading, the memo said.

The next step will be how the decision to accept or veto this new legislation is made. Will the Maori Party do it through their Caucus, the National Council hui, or via their membership.

What are your thoughts whanau?

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