Smith & English give conflicting messages on Maori water grab

irrigation I listened to John Key talking with Paul Henry this morning on the matter of Maori “leaders” mounting a bid for ownership of the country’s freshwater. I can’t really get to an understanding on this.

The NZ Herald says lawyer James Dunne, a partner in Chen Palmer, has warned of a possible uninformed public backlash in light of the controversy over the Foreshore and seabed issue. Well, I listened as hard as possible to Key’s answers and I couldn’t get a damn thing out of them, so I guess I’m part of the uninformed backlash Mr. Dunne is talking about.

I don’t really know who owns the water that falls from the sky and runs down our streams and rivers, but I would assume if there was any official body that might claim ownership it would be the Crown, and not some group of so called “Maori leaders”.

That its Nick Smith and Bill English fronting the govt negotiating team on this makes me nervous. The Herald reports-

Ministers and iwi leaders held a summit at Waitangi during the February 6 commemorations, and discussed an iwi commissioned report proposing radical ways to deal with freshwater and Maori claims. The report, by research group Sapere, proposed a nationwide settlement, an end to 35-year renewals of water consents, and a move to permanent rights and a market in tradable water rights.

Smith said the Government’s view was that nobody owned water, neither the Crown nor iwi, and it was a public good. “There is not going to be any national settlement or allocation, or any sort of iwi by iwi exclusive rights. We have been making that very plain to them”.

When Bill English was asked if some existing rights could be removed from farmers and given to iwi, he replied “I simply don’t know the answer to that.” English and Smith need to get their act together.

Smith’s answer is confusing on another level. If nobody owns the water, how come we’ve got a rights allocation system, and how can it be transfered to iwi?

The National Party has always sucked up to what I perceive as seperatist Maori groups, and this sounds like another example, I’d guess driven by Key’s abject need to rely upon Maori party political support.

Given his rambling, evasive and obviously nervous answers to Paul Henry’s questions this morning I can’t see anything good coming from this.



Categories: NZ Politics

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6 replies

  1. These fools will capitulate Red. But I’m guessing they’ll want make regional government responsible for administering it. Their idiocy with customary title of the seabed and foreshore will come around to bite us all hard one of these days as well too.

    The tragic thing is that after the 2008 election, Key and Co didn’t need the separatist party to govern. They’ve gone and made a rod for all our backs. Utter, utter fools.

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    • The ‘right’ Red is the right to ‘take’ water.Water ‘rights’ can be traded now , usually by people in the same catchment, say a neighbour when someone does not use there allocation.The water itself is not owned.
      As far as the iwi business goes it worries the hell out of me.A slippery slope and as UR says, utter fools.

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      • OK, so what I’m thinking is that farmers are currently allocated rights to use a certain amount of water from a river but do not pay any costs.

        So the so called “Maoris” want the rights to the water so that they can charge for its use. Is that the way you see it?

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        • Correct.
          There are two consents recently granted for bottling water out of an aquifer.
          These I believe are both from companies owned /backed by Chinese interests.
          The takes are for a combined 1 billion litres pa as far as I can make out.
          If iwi , who keep saying they own the water in the aquifer believe are to be given ‘ownership’ then it doesn’t take much to see what would happen if say they wanted 1 cent a litre royalty.

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          • OK, so what Smith said about no one owning the water was just a smokescreen. Its really just meaningless waffle. The issue is who gets the rights to allocate and who gets the right to charge for those allocations. Which is what he should have said.

            Maori want those rights, and they want the right to charge for the allocations.

            Or as you say, even if they don’t have the allocation rights, they say they want ownership rights and the ability to charge royalties etc. Just the usual racist ripoff garbage.

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  2. Yes.
    I still remember being at a meeting some years ago when the local iwi leader (still the same one) said he believed Maori owned the water and their aim for the future was to be in a position to allocate water.No one took any notice.
    You summed it up well.

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