May 14, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Keeping our Promise, The Maori Party

4 min read

Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana)Bill

Tena koe, nga mihinui ki a koe

We made a promise during the 2008 elections to repeal the 2004 Foreshore and SeabedAct and restore access to the courts.

When we entered into a relationship with the National Party, our promise became a milestone in that agreement.

That milestone has been a key priority of our work in Parliament over the last 18 months.

The Bill, which delivers on our promise, isat a crucial stage and the public has been bombarded with negative messaging that has gained traction.

We hope you will be ableto take the time to read through the points we make below. It is imperative that our constituents get information directly from the Maori Party that is not skewed with misinformation but instead focuses on what the Bill is trying to achieve and what outcomes there will be for tangata whenua and all New Zealanders.

Kia ora.


Abolishes Crown title and recognises customary interests (mana tuku iho) of all coastal iwi
Customary interests include a right to protect wahi tapu; and a right to be consulted on conservation and resource management.

Allows iwi to claim customary title
Customary title is a property right that includes customary interests plus all minerals except gold, silver, uranium and petroleum; all newly found taonga tuturu, development rights, and a right to develop a plan which regional councils must recognise and provide for.

Restores the right of access to court
If negotiations with Ministers do not reach agreement, tangata whenua can take their title claims to court.

The Crown has to prove customary rights were extinguished, not iwi.


  • To turn our back on this Bill, would be to break the promise we made to our people in 2005.
  • If the Bill isn’t passed, the law that deprived our people of their day in court, of their mana moana will remain in force. Is this what the people want? Is this why we marched?
  • The Bill does not give us everything we wanted, but it is a step forward. If others have a better plan for repealing the FSSB Act, let’s see it.
  • The Bill reopens the door that was slammed shut in 2004, and allows tangata whenua to have a longer discussion on customary rights.
  • The Bill does not settle the issues, but it keeps them alive.
  • The Maori Party can advocate for customary rights and tikanga in the Bill, but only tangata whenua can negotiate and settle matters of mana tuku iho.
  • The decision to support or oppose the Bill is a matter of strategy: do we take a step forward, knowing we still have a long way to go? Or do we retire from the battlefield, and try to rejoin the fray some time in the future? That is the choice facing Maori people, and we will be guided by them.


The Attorney General will be recommending the House amends the Bill to require any recognition of customary title through negotiated agreement be given effect through legislation. This means that every such agreement will be subject to full Parliamentary and public scrutiny. This will dispel any concerns about future governments doing shoddy deals.


Can the Government decline customary title over lands that have been confiscated?
If an iwi is declined title, it will not be because their land was confiscated, so no the Government and Court can not decline title solely on the basis of confiscation. Iwi who have had their land confiscated are still eligible to claim customary title.

Is there funding available for claimants seeking customary title and if so, what funding is available, how can you apply for it and how much is available?
Yes. The Crown has said funding will be made available to iwi in a manner similar to how claimant funding is provided in the Treaty settlement negotiations process. It has also said that funding will be made available to iwi and hapu who opt for the court process.

Can the current foreshore and seabed that is not privately owned be bought and sold?
Under the Bill the foreshore and seabed cannot be sold, unless it is “reclaimed land” where the rights of fee simple title apply.

Can a moratorium be placed on the foreshore and seabed not in private ownership until iwi have exhausted their claims?
Yes, but it will require the political will of the Government. Also, some iwi including Ngati Porou do not want to wait for other iwi before they can progress their foreshore and seabed claim. The Maori Party has asked the Government to place a moratorium on mining licences but it has declined our request. Iwi/Hapu can file claim with High Court/Waitangi Tribunal and or Government requesting customary foreshore and seabed to be “land banked” or “for it to be investigated” until claims are exhausted – the same as dry-land cases.

Why can’t we just repeal the Seabed and Foreshore 2004 Act and create aMarine and Coastal Bill to replace the 2004 Act with conditions that are more acceptable to Maori?
Repealing the Act but not replacing it will cause uncertainty and the law cannot allow uncertainty. Therefore Parliament cannot repeal the Act without replacing it with legislation.

Why can’t Maori get tupuna title to the foreshore and seabed?
The Maori Party asked for this but the Government declined it – saying there was no legal precedent for tupuna title.

Can a moratorium be placed on mining licences that affect the foreshore and seabed?
The Maori Party asked for this but the Government declined it.

For any clarification of this information or if you have further questions please email [email protected]

3 thoughts on “Keeping our Promise, The Maori Party

  1. As recognised by the Minister, there are frequently situations where iwi / hapu have spatially overlapping interests. The Bill does not yet deal with these adequately, to ensure less assertive hapu can also have their values recognised.

    I am very concerned that the Bill does not ensure the availability of enforceable environmental protection measures, particularly where coastal mining and development might be enabled by another party.

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