Who owns the beach and sea?

First listen to June 15th 2010

The Maori Party believes that the beach and sea were not mentioned in the Treaty of Waitangi so they belong to Maori just as they did before Europeans came to this country.

In 2004, the Foreshore and Seabed Act said that all beaches up to the high tide mark and the sea belong to all New Zealanders.

Many Maori were very angry about this. The Maori Party was formed in 2004. In the last elections, they gained 5 seats in Parliament. National had only 59 seats (out of 120). The Maori Party agreed to support National to give a majority in Parliament.

However, a new Marine and Coastal Area Bill went back to Parliament yesterday after being discussed by a committee. When Parliament votes on it, the Bill becomes an Act. This will happen very soon. This Bill is similar to the Foreshore and Seabed Act. Beaches are free for everybody as far as the high tide mark. Usually the dry sand is public but if it is private, we can only have access to the beach by boat. Anyone can fish in the sea or take shell fish from the beach. There are limits to the number of fish you can catch or the number of shell fish you can collect.

The main difference with the Marine and Coastal Area Bill is that some Iwi will be able to go to court to prove they own their local beach. They will have to show that the Iwi has lived there and used that beach since 1840. Not many Iwi will be able to do this.

The Maori Party will vote for this Bill. It is not clear what Hone Harawira will do as he disagrees with this Bill.


If Iwi can prove they own the foreshore and seabed in their local area, can they sell the sand (e.g. iron sand)? Can they sell parts of the sea for anyone wanting to start a fish farm?

Many private owners now have homes along the coast so it is too late to say we should have free access to all beaches. However, we can access the beach by boat. Do you think these owners should allow access across their land to the beach?

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