There is still a great deal of misinformation about the proposed Marine and Coastal Area Bill being spread by those seek to either scaremonger or make political capital out of it.

In reality, the Bill guarantees the rights of all New Zealanders in the common marine and coastal area – free public access, fishing rights, navigation rights, and all over existing uses and use rights. It preserves, and in some cases extends, the rights of vital infrastructure providers such as ports, airports and electricity companies.

A common misunderstanding is that the Bill hands over the coastal area to iwi.  This is untrue.  Claimants have to prove exclusive use and occupation of an area since 1840 without substantial interruption. That is a difficult test to meet. Think about the areas you or your family live in– could one group prove they have exclusively used and occupied those areas since 1840?

The customary title test also has to prove usage.  If an iwi only used and occupied from the high tide mark to the low tide mark, then that is the extent of their customary title.

Another claim is that iwi will use customary title to prevent access to beaches.  Customary title, unlike private title, cannot restrict free public access and, unlike private title, can never be sold off.

Yet another confusion is caused by some claiming that iwi will be able to charge for use of the coastal and marine area.  A customary title holder cannot charge for public access, any recreational activity, or for any existing use.

Under Helen Clark’s disastrous 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act, there is nothing to stop iwi from charging for access to the coast.  This Bill fixes that ridiculous anomaly.

People have asked why this Bill is necessary.

The Marine and Coastal Area Bill guarantees the rights of all New Zealanders in the common marine and coastal area. It restores access to justice through the Courts and long established common law property rights that were removed by Helen Clark’s railroading of the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004. These are two core principles the National Party stands for.

Despite all the hyperbole from opponents, this is the best solution to solving the issues created by the 2004 Act.