Foreshore & Seabed Q&A


What's at stake?
Control of 100,000 square kilometres of foreshore and seabed - everything from the high tide mark out to 22km, all the airspace above that, the sea and all the minerals below.
This could be extended by government over time.

What does the Act mean by the "Foreshore & Seabed"?

The entire beach made wet by the tide and then all the airspace above, water space and seabed for 22km out.

What's it worth?
Our iron sands alone are worth $1 trillion. Our seabed minerals include titanium and rare earths. Then there's all future aquaculture. So it's many billions.

But why shouldn't iwi get a share of it?
They already do, as equal New Zealand citizens. Proceeds from our ' Crown Jewels' should be used to buy medicines and education for all Kiwis.

Who owns the foreshore and seabed?
Before this new M&CA Act, we all did - and had since 1840. Now nobody does technically. The Act calls it a "Public Space" which makes it easier to give away control of it.

Have Maori always thought they owned it?
No. Iwi have never included the foreshore and seabed in Treaty claims to the Waitangi Tribunal.

Why do iwi think they own it now?
Because activist judges in 2003 said they might have a chance of getting control of it.

Was that why Helen Clark reaffirmed Crown ownership?
Yes. She thought Parliament (our highest court) should secure the coastline for all Kiwis, not just coastal iwi.

And John Key surrendered Crown ownership?

Yes. He wanted no-one to own the foreshore and seabed.

Why is he so keen for iwi to have it?

To appease his Maori Party allies and their elite tribal mates.

How is he making it easier for iwi to claim the coast?
The Act uses undefined Maori terms and sloppy wording which can be used to justify any claim. Consequently, the qualifying criteria are a farce. The floodgates will open.

How has he lowered the bar?
Under the old law, only iwi who owned land next to the foreshore and seabed could make a claim for title. John Key has waived that requirement.

Don't iwi have to test their claims in Court?
No more. Now they can negotiate their claims privately with a “Minister”.

Wasn’t National’s Attorney General, Chris Finlayson, Ngai Tahu's lawyer?

Yes. And now he’s both the Minister for Treaty Settlements and the Attorney General who approves those settlements!

What do iwi want?
Private ownership and control of the whole foreshore and seabed (for starters.)

What rights will customary title give iwi?

The right to by-pass the Resource Management Act and veto and extract payment for everything that happens on the beach or sea. The right to develop the area and mine its
mineral wealth. The right to all new aquaculture developments. The right to impose iwi resource plans and associated costs on central and local government.

Did iwi get any other kind of title?
Yes. Mana tuku iho (universal recognition) is given to all coastal iwi and covers the whole foreshore and seabed.

What rights will Mana tuku iho give iwi?
The right to priority treatment by the Department of Conservation in such matters as marine reserves, whalewatching and ferry concessions.

What sort of activities could iwi charge for?

Just about everything from boat ramps, moorings, wharves and marinas to aquaculture, mining, oil wells, tourism, pipelines and cables, wind power farms, tidal power turbines.

Are we still guaranteed free access to the beach and sea?

For now? Finlayson, under pressure from the Coastal Coalition changed the wording prior to passing the Bill. It is still loosley worded – says nothing about groups or vehicles.
The previous law specifically banned anyone from charging!

Can iwi deny beach access?
Yes. The bill says iwi can bar you from any area they deem to be 'wahi tapu' (sacred for superstitious or religious reasons). Maori wardens can fine you up to $5000 for going there.

Would iwi really do that?
Well, it happens now on beaches they don't even own.

Can we challenge a ‘wahi tapu’ we think isn’t fair?
No. There are no rights of appeal or arbitration allowed for in the Act. You have no rights.

How much foreshore & seabed will iwi get customary title to?

Finlayson says 2000km of coastline. Maori MPs say much more. Key says "no one really knows” - scary.

Will this satisfy iwi desires?

No. Any iwi victory just spawns more claims. We’ve seen it with the Treaty Claims. Claims are renegotiated and resettled again and again. The Maori Party say they won’t stop until the whole of our 200-mile economic zone is in Maori title.

What mandate did John Key have to surrender our coast?

None at all. His mandate was to abolish the Maori seats, not champion Maori sovereignty. It’s a massive betrayal.

Prepared by the Coastal Coalition, August 2011