In a bombshell ruling, the High Court has granted 13 iwi claimants customary marine title and rights to several marine areas in the Bay of Plenty, a move which could set a precedent for the 580+ other claims that cover the entire coastline of New Zealand. This ruling grants the claimants a new form of property right, known as customary marine title, over areas of foreshore and seabed between Whakatāne and Ōpōtiki - from the high water mark on the land side, out 12 nautical miles to sea, including the airspace above.
Customary Marine Title
Customary marine title (CMT) is not a title that can be sold, but it does allow the iwi to gain financially from the area. This could be through "partnerships" or leases entered into with commercial operators. Additionally, the title includes the ownership of non-nationalised minerals.
The public have a right of access, although iwi can register wāhi tapu sites (a place sacred to Māori in the traditional, spiritual, religious, ritual or mythological sense), which can restrict public access.
The Crown and Local Government will maintain responsibility for the area from an environmental perspective, and will consult with the iwi before preparing Coastal Policy Statements and other local planning documents. Under the Act, the CMT holder has the right to prepare a planning document which the local authority must take into account when making any decision in relation to the CMT area. It also gives the iwi the right to veto any resource consent application, with no right of appeal by the applicant.
Under this law, the public pays through taxes and rates for the care of this area, while the CMT holder is able to turn this natural resource into a source of income.
The landmark decision will likely serve as a precedent - unless it is overturned
When the Government enacted the legislation in 2011, the Minister responsible - Christopher Finlayson - stated that the Act set a very high bar in order for a court to grant title to an area. This included proving exclusive use and occupation of the area since 1840 without substantial interruption, and to have held the area in accordance with tikanga (Māori customary values and practices). However, the Justice Churchman has decided that holding the area in accordance with tikanga takes precedence over exclusive use, thereby ruling that "the concept of exclusion was fundamentally inconsistent with the tikanga values of manaakitanga and whakapapa" [paragraph 111], and that the "obligation of manaakitanga can extend as far as sharing the resources of the takutai moana with non-Māori" [paragraph 265].
Based on this logic, the entire New Zealand coastline could end up under Māori control.
PLEASE HELP TO FIGHT BACK!
A group called the Landowners Coalition was involved in the case as an Interested Party. They did so on behalf of the public interest and supporters who do not have the means or ability to undertake these initiatives themselves. They are shocked by the outcome of this case, as the judgement takes a very liberal view of the law, and believe it has not been applied in a manner that was intended by Parliament.
Unless this decision is appealed, it will have a profound impact on our entire coastline and Territorial Sea. Consequently, the Landowners Coalition have lodged an appeal, and are seeking financial support to do so. If you are able to help, please visit the Coastal Claims Fighting Fund fundraiser page at NZCPR, by clicking HERE
Also, if you haven't already done so, please sign the petition to restore NZ beaches to public ownership. You can read more and sign the petition here: http://chng.it/5RcPSxv9vn
Te Awawhiti has mapped all applications. Click the link below to access. To go to the map, click the tab "Kōrero Takutai"
A Bombshell Ruling by Dr Muriel Newman
Waikanae Watch In the light of the recent Foreshore and Seabed ruling