Rival camps united in call to bin foreshore bill

By Yvonne Tahana

Hone Harawira says the Government should look for fresh options  rather than back the 'piece of rubbish' currently before the public. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Hone Harawira says the Government should look for fresh options rather than back the 'piece of rubbish' currently before the public. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Polar opposites in the foreshore debate were yesterday unanimous in one respect - telling the Government to scrap a proposed bill designed to settle the issue.

The Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill is intended to replace the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act.

It deletes Crown ownership over the wet sand out to the 12-mile (19km) limit and allows Maori to test claims for customary title, a form of ownership that cannot be onsold.

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira and Coastal Coalition leader Dr Muriel Newman were two of nearly 40 submitters in Whangarei to give oral submissions to the Maori affairs select committee.

Mr Harawira, who was booted off the committee and replaced by his colleague Te Ururoa Flavell after continually voicing his opposition, called the bill "dog tucker".

He said it had failed to deliver for Maori but had also managed to anger "rednecks".

While the bill restored the right of Maori to go to court to prove customary title, the potential for 98 per cent of claimants to be unable to pass legislative tests meant it was a "Clayton's" win. He also sounded a warning to his own party, saying members were not elected to go "soft".

"We were not elected to accept the crumbs that fall from another man's table. And we were not elected to meekly accept that which we know to be wrong."

He proposed the Government repeal the 2004 act, keep free-access and no-sale clauses and appoint an expert group to find better options than the "badly stitched together piece of rubbish" before the public now.

Dr Newman also asked the Government to go back to the drawing board and take its time about finding a solution.

The law would alienate thousands of Kiwis from the area and amounted to mass confiscation, she said.

"The foreshore and seabed belongs to all New Zealanders equally. It's a part of who we are as Kiwis ... and Crown ownership ensures that every one of us has unfettered access to a coastline that we all love."

Labour MP Kelvin Davis said given Dr Newman's proposition was similar to Mr Harawira's - despite the groups having diametrically opposed views - there must be a mutually acceptable solution.

"I'm sure that anything's possible. It's a bizarre situation where Parliament's done its best and it's satisfied nobody."

For the most part yesterday submitters fell into those two groups with few exceptions.

Support of the bill was so rare that when someone did support it he drew gasps from the crowd. Speaking on behalf of his whanau, Stephen Henare said he believed the bill provided a just and durable settlement which would help his people to move forward.

- NZ Herald

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