The Coastal Coalition has launched a Citizens Initiated Referendum (CIR) asking Parliament to repeal the recently passed Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011, and replace it with legislation that restores Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed. The Coastal Coalition campaigned strongly against this controversial Act which passed in April with a slim majority.
"We are taking this action because the foreshore and seabed is regarded as commonly owned by all New Zealanders equally since 1840, and because Maori traditions have never supported private ownership of the area either" Coastal Coalition Spokesman Dr Hugh Barr said today.
"The Marine and Coastal Area Minister Christopher Finlayson and the National Government ignored the widespread opposition of non-iwi New Zealanders when they passed the new law. By enabling Maori tribal groups to gain private ownership of the coastal area, which has always been a public commons in New Zealand, deep racial division within our society will be created over time", Dr Barr said.
"The National government has significantly lowered the qualifying criteria for tribal claims, over those in the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act, which recognised iwi mana but only for groups who could genuinely prove their claim in the High Court. The new law not only gives ownership and title instead of mana, but it allows the claims to be settled by secret negotiations with the Minister (from which all other interest groups are excluded) instead of having to be proved in the High Court. This secret settlement will then be rubber stamped, by an Act of Parliament."
"The weakened process is already opening the floodgates for claims for the coast, with iwi groups now queuing up to make claims for popular areas like 90 Mile Beach and the Kaipara Harbour, rather than the remote areas we were led to believe."
"And free public access is not guaranteed, as any area where a tribal group gains customary title can be declared a wahi tapu area, which excludes the general public, and allows patrolling by tribal wardens, and individual fines of up to $5,000."
"We are hoping the public gets behind the petition and that together we can show the National government that they had no right to railroad this atrocious law change through, against the wishes of the New Zealand public, and that we want it repealed so the foreshore and seabed can be returned to Crown ownership - where it belongs", Dr Barr said.
Copies of the Petition and full instructions of how to help are available from the Coastal Coalition website at <a href="http://www.coastalcoalition.co.nz/">www.CoastalCoalition.co.nz</a>. The Coastal Coalition now has a year in which to collect the signatures of 10 percent (400,000) of registered voters in order to require the government to hold a nation-wide referendum.
The CIR announcement is in the New Zealand Gazette today: <a href="http://www.dia.govt.nz/Pubforms.nsf/NZGZT/NZGazette105Jul11.pdf/$file/NZGazette105Jul11.pdf">http://www.dia.govt.nz/Pubforms.nsf/NZGZT/NZGazette105Jul11.pdf/$file/NZGazette105Jul11.pdf</a>
NZ Gazette of 14 July 2011, Page 3059, Office of the Clerk of the House
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