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Confusion over Queen's Chain

Published: 7:13PM Tuesday August 05, 2003

A Government commissioned report has found the public may not be entitled to the Queen's Chain that exists around New Zealand's rivers, lakes and beaches.

Land Information Minister, John Tamihere, says many New Zealander's think the Queen's Chain extends around the country which he says is not accurate.

"There is a perception in New Zealand, wrongly held, that there is a Queen's Chain around the whole of New Zealand, allowing free public access around the whole of New Zealand; that is not the case," says Tamihere.

The latest survey information says of the 18,000 kilometres of New Zealand coastline, around a third, is in private hands which means the Queen's Chain (the width of a road in Victorian times) is missing a lot of links.

Prime Minister Helen Clark says she is supportive of the Queen's Chain concept.

Plans to resolve the seabed and foreshore issue will be made public around the same time as the plans for the Queen's Chain land above the tideline.

The ACT party is suspicious, accusing the Government of trying to confuse the two issues and mix a more popular move with a not-so popular compromise.

"Will she give a public assurance to this House that no New Zealander, Maori or non-Maori, are going to lose any property rights without full compensation," ACT leader Richard Prebble asked the Prime Minister in Parliament.

But the Clark would not give that assurance and Tamihere thinks it is an issue that needs open public debate.

"The Government may be setting up to use a backdoor means of extending that around our whole coastline, appropriating private freehold title possibly without compensation, because they could simply not afford to pay the compensation," says Ken Shirley, Deputy Leader of the ACT party.

Land titles are a complicated business, but ACT thinks the politics are simple; give most people a little of they want while you take away something else and hope they do not notice or do not mind.

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