The traditional rights of an iwi to a section of coastline are set to be enshrined in law with the Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Porou Moana bill that has been introduced to parliament.

The last time a Labour government had anything to do with the foreshore and seabed their controversial stance led to protests.

Now, according to Minister of Treaty Negotiations Andrew Little, the new Labour government has a different view.

“We accepted that what happened in 2004 was unfortunate. I think if we had that time again we might've looked at it differently. When I was party president in 2009, I acknowledged that the Labour Party in government should never be in the position of depriving anybody of going to the court to test their legal rights.”

As a result, Tariana Turia says it's why turned her back on labour and founded the Māori Party.

“I'm really pleased that Andrew Little is showing leadership on this particular issue. It's very important for us as a people right now that we are able to move forward, that we are able to look at the foreshore and seabed, acknowledging that what Labour did was wrong. And we get to move on and be very thankful that Ngāti Porou has taken this case and won it.”

The settlement will give Ngāti Porou customary title over significant parts of the East Coast coastline, as well as customary rights such as fishing and the protection of wāhi tapu.

Little says this bodes well for other iwi looking considering a similar application.

“We've now got 380 other claims that we've got to deal with, some in the High Court, some directly with the government that we now have to take the time to work out the process to get those sorted out.”

The Minister says' Ngāti Porou's bill is expected to be legislated by the end of the year.

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