Iwi will be specifically barred by law from charging for access to the foreshore after the Act Party persuaded the Attorney-General to include the provision in repeal legislation.

That is despite previous assurances from Christopher Finlayson that the Marine and Coastal Area Bill does not permit charging for access.

The bill allows Maori to apply for customary title, a limited form of ownership which Mr Finlayson estimates could apply to 10 per cent of the coastline.

It replaces the 2004 act.

In Parliament yesterday, Mr Finlayson said three clauses ruled out charging, but he accepted the Act amendment would be a more direct statement.

It spells out that customary title holders are not allowed to charge for public access to a beach.

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell asked Mr Finlayson about Act's motivation for continuing to talk about charging for access when the concept didn't exist in the law.

"I can only assume that the motivation is the desire for absolute clarity, or because of some confusion," Mr Finlayson said.

Party leader Rodney Hide said the move was a welcome development as he suggested Kiwi culture had been under threat.

"Recreational use of the marine and coastal area - for swimming, walking, fishing ... is the birthright of all New Zealanders, and the Government's confirmation of support today is an important step toward saving the traditional Kiwi summer."

Asked if he knew of any iwi planning to charge for access, Mr Hide didn't name one, but said he'd been advised of New Zealanders being asked to pay on beaches or leave.

Landowners who have interests in 12,500 parcels of privately held foreshore, who are entitled at present to charge for access, won't be subject to any new law prohibiting charges.