In January 2005, the New Zealand government passed the controversial Seabed and Foreshore legislation to prevent Maori from claiming ownership of New Zealand’s resource rich coastline and seabed. The Maori traditionally see themselves as caretakers of the land and coastline. The Maori population is approximately 530,000 of 4 million New Zealanders. Maori leaders said the new laws contravene the Treaty of Waitangi, a treaty signed in 1840 between the European settlers and native Maori to live together peacefully. The treaty of Waitangi had guaranteed Maori full exclusive and disturbed possession of their lands and estate, forests and fisheries.