From Audrey Young NZH
"Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said yesterday that customary title was "an ownership title" - meaning that Maori groups awarded customary title in the foreshore and seabed will be the legal owners of it and the minerals beneath it.Is this what it is really all about - the mineral wealth? Is this why the iwi Leaders group gave the maori party the go-ahead for the agreement?
"Foreshore and seabed will be deemed to be in "the public domain" and owned by no one until an iwi or hapu is awarded customary title by a court or the Government, although another term may be found."
The relevant customary title will then sit over the public domain designation in the same way that fee simple title sits over the Crown's radical title to land.
Mr Finlayson said public domain would provide "a staging post" in which some iwi or hapu would be able to investigate customary title."The use of the word 'until' is problematic because even if the iwi or hapu get issued customary title - that is still subordinate to 'public domain' or whatever bogus name they make up.
"Iwi will have to prove they have had exclusive use and occupation of the relevant area since 1840.
Mr Finlayson said "exclusivity" was a common-law concept "which requires the applicant group to demonstrate their interest in a particular area is generally akin to ownership in that they are able to exclude non-members of the customary title-holder group".
"Exclusivity must have been continuous without substantial interruption since 1840."
Some examples of interruption included selling the land, having a port built over it or, as in the case of Auckland beaches, having thousands of people passing through and using it and the local iwi not exercising any control over use or occupation."The bar is set high to reduce the opportunity for iwi and hapu. Yes they can go to court but the test for customary title is not designed to empower maori - it is designed to keep maori down.
Once again we have the tail wagging the dog. The crown should have to prove that maori don't have customary title NOT the other way round.
Time for another hikoi IMO