In announcing the Government is seeking public feedback on options to replace the Foreshore and Seabed Act, Prime Minister John Key says it is important for all New Zealanders to see the matter resolved effectively once and for all.
"The reality is the current legislation created widespread grievance among Maori, not least because their ability to go to the courts to seek recognition of their rights was taken away.
"Just as resolving outstanding Treaty claims in a reasonable timeframe is central to dealing with past grievances and thereby allowing Maori and the Crown alike to move forward to focus on the future rather than dwell on the past, so too the foreshore and seabed issue needs to be resolved fairly and in every New Zealander's interest."
Mr Key says the discussion document sets out the Government's preferred option, under which its bottom line principle of public access for all to the foreshore and seabed is protected, while putting in place a mechanism for iwi to have their interests recognised.
"This debate has too often focused on the issue of ownership - even though the vast majority of New Zealanders, Maori and Pakeha, consider the foreshore and seabed to be a public space for all of us to share and enjoy. That is what the Government's preferred option will achieve.
"I am pleased that after considerable work by Ministers, and active co-operation between the National Party and the Maori Party, we are getting closer to achieving a positive result.
"This work was well-signalled in the Confidence and Supply agreement both parties signed after the last election and, while progress has been steady rather than quick, all New Zealanders can be confident that with continued goodwill we are getting close to a lasting solution that will put this long-standing issue behind us," says Mr Key.
Foreshore & Seabed: Towards an Enduring Solution (pdf, 492 Kb)