beautiful monsters: Some points about the foreshore and seabed

May 05, 2004

Some points about the foreshore and seabed

The Crown has always assumed it owned the foreshore and seabed.

Ever since the treaty was signed iwi and hapu have claimed that the foreshore and seabed are covered by article two of Te Tiriti. Maori had exercised rights over the foreshore and seabed for centuries before the treaty was signed.

The new policy vests the “full and beneficial ownership” in the Crown.

The new “customary right” created by the legislation is limited to those “traditional activities” that have “continued to be undertaken, substantially uninterrupted, in accordance with tikanga from 1840 to the present.” So, if Maori have taken hangi stones from the beach from 1840 until now (no breaks) they can continue to do so. If the court establishes that they have that right. Once the court does give Maori “customary rights” this is effectively meaningless, and can be extinguished by the Crown at any time.

“Since 1940 it has been private owners, exploitative commercial enterprise and government agencies rather than iwi and hapu, who have denied public access to the foreshore and seabed. Tangata Whenua have not excluded others, provided wahi tapu are respected and natural resources are not damaged or depleted.” – PMA

If Maori have customary rights over land below mean tide, how are they going to impede open access to coastal land and beaches?

Maori representatives have put together some awesome proposals, such as covenants of access and non-saleability. These have not been acknowledged by the media or considered by the crown.

The government did not consult Maori. They didn’t even consult their own Maori MPs.

“If a ruling came out about the exclusive property rights of Pakeha with riparian ownership rights, or even the claim to ongoing rights by Pakeha who have built baches on Crown land, would there be such a national uproar?” – David Williams

The government is not permitting due process of law. By not waiting for a proper judicial enquiry into the land rights involved, and insisting on ownership, they are going against their own Pakeha law values going back to Magna Carta in 1215.

“The foreshore/seabed litigation was a magnificent opportunity to acknowledge that the tikanga Maori stream of law does have status alongside English law in the common law of Aotearoa New Zealand. That opportunity with be lost, and a new Treaty of Waitangi grievance will arise, if we cannot just take a breath, and find out a bit more about Maori Customary rights, before we jump up and down.” - D Williams.

Points poached from Revd Dr David V Williams, Associate Professor of Law, University of Auckland & Peace Movement Aotearoa Bulletin.

Still confused? Do your own google search, I’m going down to join the hikoi.

Posted by Fionnaigh at May 5, 2004 07:45 AM

Details about where and when are here (in case anyone else is as out of touch as I am :)

Posted by: iona at May 5, 2004 09:23 AM

it seems to me that maori proposals for covenants of access and non-saleability put the foreshore and seabed in safer hands than crown ownership.

Posted by: sue at May 5, 2004 04:55 PM

Or even, we could have laws which protected access and non-saleability no matter who it was owned by. I'd like an amendment to the Constitution Act myself. :)

Posted by: .carla at May 8, 2004 12:06 AM