Foreshore and Seabed Act review received

  • Christopher Finlayson
  • Pita Sharples
Attorney-General Maori Affairs

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson today released the report of the Ministerial Review Panel which he commissioned on the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004.

The report includes the panel’s advice and sets out a range of options on how to best recognise both customary and public interests in the coastal marine area.

“The panel has completed the vital first stage of the review process and reported on time” said Mr Finlayson. “The next step is for the Government to consider the recommendations in the report and make decisions on the future of the Act.”

“We will take the time necessary to reach a decision in the best interests of all New Zealanders.”

“The report of the independent ministerial review panel confirms that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the Foreshore and Seabed Act that is not confined to Maori,” said Minister of Maori Affairs Dr Pita Sharples.

“If the Act is repealed, the focus will be on finding the best balance of customary rights and the interests of the wider public.”

“The Government is hoping to make an initial response around late August 2009,” said Mr Finlayson.

The three-person Ministerial panel was chaired by former High Court Judge Taihakurei Edward Durie. The other members are barrister Richard Boast, an Associate Professor at Victoria University, and educationalist Hana O’Regan.

“We would like to thank the panel for their hard work in conducting a robust process and developing a comprehensive report that responds to the terms of reference,” said Mr Finlayson.

The report is available through the related documents section at the bottom of this release and through www.justice.govt.nz

FAQs

1.    Why is the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 being reviewed?

A review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 is being undertaken to determine whether the Act adequately maintains and enhances mana whenua. It will also ensure that both customary and public interests in the coastal marine areas are recognised and provided for.

2.      How did the review come about?

The National Party and Maori Party entered into a Relationship and Confidence and Supply Agreement in November 2008. In this agreement both parties agreed to initiate a review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act as a priority.

Ministers from both the National Party and Māori Party worked together to select members for a Ministerial Review Panel and draft an agreed Terms of Reference for the review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004.

A key part of the agreement was recognition of the concerns over the current Act, and also the interests of the public in using the coastal marine area.

3.    Was the Ministerial Review Panel Independent?

The Ministerial Review Panel operated independently from the Government. It made its own decisions regarding consultation hui, public meetings, key commentators, the submissions process and all other issues related to that stage of the review. The Ministry of Justice provided secretariat support.

The Ministerial Review Panel provided independent advice on the issues outlined in the Terms of Reference to the Attorney-General on 30 June 2009. 

The Terms of Reference describing the purpose, scope and timing of the review, and biographies of the Ministerial Review Panel members, are available at the Ministry of Justice website located at: www.justice.govt.nz/ministerial-review.

4.      Who did the Ministerial Review Panel consult during the review?

The Ministerial Review Panel undertook a considered process within the time available. That process involved consultation with the general public, Māori groups, foreshore and seabed negotiating groups, sector interest groups and key commentators on the foreshore and seabed issue.

5.      How was the consultation undertaken?

The review was announced on 4 March 2009.

The Ministerial Review Panel:

  • 1.    invited written submissions from Monday 30 March until 19 May 2009. This gave people the opportunity to write to the Ministerial Review Panel to express their views;
  • 2.    held 21 hui and public meetings throughout the country from 20 April until 19 May 2009. This gave people the opportunity to make oral submissions directly to the panel; and
  • 3.    invited foreshore negotiating groups and key commentators to speak about the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004.

6.    What did the Ministerial Review Panel provide advice on?

The Ministerial Review Panel was asked to provide independent advice on the Terms of Reference. The Terms of Reference asked for advice on:

    • a.         the nature and extent of the mana whenua and public interests in the coastal marine area prior to the Court of Appeal decision in Attorney-General v Ngāti Apa [2003] 3 NZLR 643;
    • b.         what options were available to the government to respond to the Court of Appeal's 2003 Attorney-General v Ngāti Apa decision;
    • c.         whether the Foreshore and Seabed Act effectively recognises and provides for customary or aboriginal title and public interests (including Māori, local government and business) in the coastal marine area and maintains and allows for the enhancement of mana whenua; and
    • d.         if the Ministerial Review Panel had reservations that the Foreshore and Seabed Act does not provide for the above, outline options on what could be the most workable and efficient methods by which both customary and public interests in the coastal marine area could be recognised and provided for; and in particular, how processes of recognising and providing for such interests could be streamlined.

7.    How many public oral and written submissions were received?

The Ministerial Review Panel received approximately 580 submissions. There were 236 oral submissions; the remainder were written submissions. These will be available at the Ministry of Justice website located at: www.justice.govt.nz/ministerial-review.

The panel also considered the submissions made on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill when it was originally passed.

Of the submissions to the panel received, 85% who commented on what should happen to the Act favoured repeal. Of the remaining 15% many favoured substantial amendment but stated they would be happy to have the Act repealed. The remaining 5% favoured the status quo.

The Government will need time to consider the advice and options provided by the Ministerial Review Panel to ensure its response is well informed and considered. The Government will respond to the advice and then will begin making decisions about the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004.

An initial response is expected around the end of August 2009.

8.     Is the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 going to be repealed?

The Foreshore and Seabed Act has proven to be one of the most contentious pieces of legislation in recent history. It is important that government takes the time to consider all issues carefully to strike the appropriate balance between customary interests and the interests of the wider public.

The report presents a number of recommendations. The government will consider each of the options carefully. An initial response is expected around the end of August 2009.

In the event there is a repeal of the legislation, the Government will ensure that the interests and concerns of all New Zealanders are balanced in the costal marine area.

9.    What happens to negotiations that the Crown had been engaged in under the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004?

Foreshore and seabed negotiations were placed on hold while the review was underway. There are no plans to re-enter negotiations while the government is considering the review report. An initial response is expected around the end of August 2009.

10. What happens to agreements made under the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004?

The Government is committed to honouring the agreement reached under the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 with ngā hapū o Ngāti Porou in the East Coast region.