Political leaders welcome inquiry into Marine and Coastal Act

By Talisa Kupenga

With a Waitangi Tribunal inquiry into the Marine and Coastal Area Act now granted and the election less than a month away, political leaders give their take on the announcement.

The debate around foreshore and seabed ownership rights still ebbs and flows but Hone Harawira's stance remains unchanged.

"The Mana Movement, myself and Māori included are calling for it to be returned. That's the big issue. I commend the Waitangi Tribunal."

The Māori Party welcomes the inquiry despite having helped National pass the Marine and Coastal Areas Act into law to replace Labour's 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act, the same act that led to the creation of the Māori Party.

Māori co-leader Marama Fox says, "If Labour didn't steal our land under the Foreshore and Seabed Act, there would have been no need for the Marine and Coastal Areas Act. An inquiry is long overdue."

Labour says it will wait for the Tribunal's findings, but the party's stance has changed since 2004.

Deputy leader Kelvin Davis says, "Labour has learnt from mistakes it made in 2004. We want to make sure that Labour doesn't make those mistakes again."

Harawira says there is no time for apologies.

"It's a waste of time apologising. Return [the foreshore and seabed]."

The date for release of the Tribunal's findings is yet to be decided.