The Herald reports:
Maori will refuse to forgo their rights to the foreshore and seabed and see it vested in the public domain unless private owners do the same, says Mark Solomon, Ngai Tahu chairman and member of a Maori iwi leadership group.
If this really is the position of Iwi, then I say the Government should simply repeal the FSA and let courts decide, rather than have a negotiated package.
There is a fundamental difference between existing private owners of parts of the foreshore & seabed, and the Iwi’s claims.
Existing private owners already have title, which is not in dispute. That title has generally been paid for incidentally.
Iwi do not hold title to any parts of the foreshore & seabed. All they had was a Court of Appeal decision that said they could argue for title in court if they could prove continuous usage of a discrete area of the foreshore and/or seabed since 1840.
Now I accept Iwi may have a sincere belief that they do have title, based on them being here before 1840. But that is not the law of the land, and is not what the Court of Appeal found. All the Court of Appeal found was a right to make a claim for discrete areas.
What is especially disappointing in the position of the Iwi, is how unprincipled their stance is. Many groups opposed the FSA (such as ACT and the Business Roundtable0 because it removed their rights to go to court, and supported Iwi as a matter of principle in upholding property rights. Now Iwi are arguing that the Government should confiscate fee simple titles off 12,000 persons, while giving Iwi the right to gain customary title. It is an entirely unprincipled position to take, and risks burning off support for an alternative to the Foreshore & Seabed Act.