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Ed Sheeran

Customary owners frustrated at "landowners" stunt

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A member of a Whakatōhea whānau is questioning what right a Whangārei lobby group has appealing a High Court ruling recognising its customary rights to parts of the takutai moana around Ōpōtiki.

Karen Mokomoko from Te Whānau o Mokomoko says the appeal is frustrating when the six Whakatōhea hapū involved in the case want to get on with the next stage of drawing up the orders that will recognise their various interests.

The Landowners Coalition is headed by property investor Bob Syron and Frank Newman, a director of the New Zealand Centre for Policy Research think tank headed by former ACT MP Muriel Newman.

In court it was represented by barrister Christopher Finlayson, who as Attorney General in the last ACT-National-Māori Party Government wrote the Marine and Coastal Areas Act to replace Labour’s Foreshore and Seabed Act.

On the coalition website, Mr Newman told supporters that when the Act was passed the Attorney General indicated valid claims for a customary title would only affect around 4 percent of the coastline, but the Whakatōhea judgment takes a much more liberal view of the law.

Ms Mokomoko says the goal posts seem to keep changing for Māori.

"What's this Landowners Coalition? What right do they really have to appeal? This is us proving to the crown that we have history there from the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi," she says.

Karen Mokomoko says it was one of the few cases the hapū have been involved in where the court really listened to tangata whenua.

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