Thursday, February 26, 2004

Antipodean Journal has a good post about what the government should have done over the foreshore and seabed.

I'm beginning to agree with him - certainly the court case was blown out of all proportion and caused a great deal of panic. Parts of our beaches are already in private hands, and nobody cared about it. Again, I have to question what the actual problem is - whether it is one of scale - too much beach becoming private - or one of who the owners would be (and specifically, that they would be brown, rather than rich and white).

In any case, now that the government (and political parties of all stripes) have promised action, it's probably too late to just back away and leave it all up to the courts. The thing is that the government's proposal of recognising specific cutomary usage rights is probably the best way of reconciling Maori common law property rights with the rights of existing property owners and the customary right of all New Zealanders to go to the beach. Certainly it's better than the outright expropriation proposed by National, which will simply create a problem for future generations. Unfortunately, they've completely failed to sell it - National can still stir racial disharmony by saying that the government is giving the beaches away to Maori, when they're doing nothing of the sort.