Revised legislation on the foreshore and seabed repeats the injustices of the original act and does nothing more than paper over the cracks, the Green Party said today.
"The first Foreshore and Seabed Act alienated Maori from areas of the coast that they had strong customary connections with by placing all these areas in Crown ownership and removing from Maori the same rights in court that other New Zealanders have," Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.
"This created a fundamental injustice. The new Marine and Coastal Area Bill does nothing to address this injustice.
"There is no substantive difference between the 'common marine area' and the 'public domain'.
"Instead of letting Maori have claims to customary title determined by common law, this bill spells out what those rights entail. These are substantially weaker than the private title rights enjoyed by non-Maori owners.
"Under this bill, Maori will only get what the Government has decided they can get, irrespective of the strength of their claim under common law.
"Yet 12,500 private titles over areas of the foreshore and seabed are unaffected. This is unfair and creates a double standard which treats Maori customary title as inferior.
"It also puts our coastline at risk of privatisation and foreign ownership. If John Key's Government is worried about public access and ownership, it should be amending the law to ensure that no foreshore and seabed land can ever be sold, rather than singling out Maori."
Mrs Turei said she was very disappointed that the Maori Party would support this unfair law.
"Repealing the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 was a founding principle of the Maori Party, and yet they have ended up supporting a bill which essentially repeats the same injustices.
"I sympathise with the Maori Party who have found themselves backed into a corner on this issue, but their commitment should be to their people first and foremost and I am incredibly disappointed that they have chosen to support this bill."