The Act Party today called on the Government to withdraw the legislation that will replace the Foreshore and Seabed Act, saying public submissions indicate vehement opposition from both Maori and non-Maori.

Labour yesterday withdrew its support for the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill, leaving the Government with 63 votes backing it against a combined opposition tally of 59. The bill is still at the select committee stage.

Labour leader Phil Goff said negative submissions to the select committee, division within the Maori Party and comments by its co-leader Tariana Turia that the legislation might be revisited showed it would not be an enduring settlement.

Act MP Hilary Calvert said today she and her colleague John Boscawen had travelled around the country with the Maori Affairs select committee, which is hearing submissions on the bill.

"The message is the same: everyone, Maori and non-Maori, is vehemently opposed to this bill," she said.

"Members of Parliament have a duty to represent the views of the people who elected them... they cannot, in good conscience, continue to support legislation that submitter after submitter does not want passed into law."

Ms Calvert said the Government should withdraw the bill rather than continue to ignore its obligation to represent its supporters.

The Government is determined to pass the bill, but if just two MPs who support it change their minds it won't have the numbers to get it through.

Opposing it, for different reasons, are Labour, ACT, the Greens, the Progressive Party, Maori Party MP Hone Harawira and independent Chris Carter.

National, four Maori Party MPs and United Future's Peter Dunne support the bill.

The bill was drafted through a deal between the Government and the Maori Party, and if the Maori Party withdraws support the bill will lapse and the Foreshore and Seabed Act will remain in force.

Maori Party co-leaders Pita Sharples and Mrs Turia, with MPs Te Ururoa Flavell and Rahui Katene, haven't given any indication they will change their minds.

The bill returns to Maori the right to seek customary title to parts of the coastline through the High Court or by negotiation with the Government.

The main concern of dissenting iwi, and Mr Harawira, is that the test for customary title is uninterrupted use and occupation since 1840.

They say that sets the bar much too high and would cut out 98 per cent of potential applicants.

- NZPA