The first mistake National must fix

While we all wait for our new Government to be formed, we are witnessing a huge mistake made by the previous National-led Government play out.

There are many awful things the last Government did which need to be fixed urgently but as a very high priority National must clean up its own past mistakes – starting with the foreshore and seabed legislation.

In 2011, the National-led Government passed the 2011 Marine and Coastal Area Act (MACA). Then Prime Minister John Key and Attorney General Chris Finlayson stated that the legislation would result in very few successful claims for our foreshore, seabed, and territorial waters, and that the concerns by many over the loose legislation were unfounded.

Predictably, the 2017 deadline for lodging claims under that Act resulted in opportunistic claims being lodged for New Zealand’s entire coastline.

Currently, 200 of these claims are cluttering up the High Court and another 385 are subject to behind-doors negotiation with Government. Sadly, the ongoing consequences are draining the time and coffers of self-funding counterclaimants, Councils, RMA applicants, and the taxpayers who are obliged to fund all Māori claimants. There are community disputes at several beaches around the country.

"Pākiri beach whānau impose rāhui on beach to protect kaimoana" - Te Ao News

In an extreme example of judicial activism, the Court of Appeal has just last month supported the rulings made by Justice Churchman in an earlier case related to this piece of legislation.

The Courts have deemed that the requirement for claimants to have ‘exclusively occupied’ an area has no connection to any dictionary definition nor even what was intended, and the highly variable concept of ‘tikanga’ is the overarching consideration in the hearing of claims. 

These interpretations of the law facilitate our coastline, beaches, estuaries, harbours, rivers, and territorial sea passing into the control of various groups which identify as Māori. This control extends to the airspace above, the water space, plus the subsoil, bedrock, and mineral wealth below.

The longterm impacts of this in terms of our country’s unity, economic development, business costs and efficiency, corruption levels, conservation efforts, citizens’ recreation, law and order, and race relations would be very serious.

We must help the new National-led Government reverse this destructive legislation.

What can we do?

For starters, take action by:

  1. Writing/emailing your National, ACT, and New Zealand First MPs, calling on them to stop the undermining of our country’s unity by restoring Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed.
  2. Signing this petition, which will be delivered to the incoming Government.
  3. Writing to the editors of newspapers, reaching out to journalists, and contacting media organisations.

If you have any other ideas for action, please get in touch. We are always open to hearing ideas.