The Foreshore and Seabed Act was the result of panic.
The Court of Appeal didn’t say Iwi with continuous customary use could convert that to freehold title. It just said they had the right to test that in court.
But once that got into the media that was translated into Maori having freehold title and the ability to exclude people from the beaches. There was a public outcry and the government panicked.
That was politically costly for the Labour Party because the Act which resulted led to the birth of the Maori Party.
But Labour wasn’t the only party at fault. Former National Party leader Don Brash told Q&A the party got it wrong.
Now John Key has said the legislation will almost certainly be repealed.
There is no indication yet on what will replace it but when panic led to the mistake in the first place it would be helpful if everybody could debate the issue calmly and rationally.
Mr Key said the legislation had been complex, but a replacement that sat well with all New Zealanders was possible.
Not only possible but necessary.
Property rights must be respected and public access to the beaches must be retained. Those are not mutually exclusive.