David Rankin and Don Brash slam National over Iwi water grab

David Rankin The outspoken leader of Ngapuhi’s Matarahurahu hapu, David Rankin has issued a press release that states the Iwi leaders’ water claim is “nothing but corporate greed”.

He’s right of course, but if National weren’t such cowards, maybe Iwi wouldn’t be taking advantage.

Mr Rankin, who is currently undertaking a PhD on traditional property rights, points out that prior to the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand, Maori never owned water. And even after Europeans arrived, Maori never owned water.

He says that there is no cultural basis or historical precedent for the claim. Neither is water Treaty right according to him “Water is not mentioned in the Treaty once. ‘Taonga’ are mentioned, but these are not property rights. A ‘taonga’ traditionally was something that could be acquired at the point of a spear. Try doing that with water”, he says.

Mr Rankin believes that the attempts by iwi leaders to grab hold of water rights is just a case of opportunism. He sees a pattern emerging where if Maori leaders thump their fists long enough about a resource, they will acquire it. He points to the foreshore and seabed, Auckland’s mountains, some national parks, mining rights, forestry rights, and radio frequencies as examples.

“Tribal trusts boards are not about Maori, they use the iwi names as a front for their commercial ventures. The average Maori receives as much benefit from them as the average European: none,” says Mr Rankin. “As proof of this, even though iwi now measure their wealth in the billions of dollars, Maori are poorer now than at any other time in living memory”.

What is wrong with the National party that they are apparently unable to come to or speak the simple truths Mr. Rankin speaks? Former leader Don Brash says the party could hand NZ First a powerful election campaign if it gives Maori preferential access in fresh-water reform.

New details of the Crown’s negotiations with the Iwi Leaders Group over fresh-water reform, emerged on Sunday, with signs the Government is moving towards “catchment by catchment” negotiated at a regional -government level, that could grant iwi preferential access.

Brash said the Crown appeared to be trying to stop the issue becoming a national one by passing responsibility to regional government, but he believed there was growing anger among the public at preferential deals for Maori.

And Brash is right, except the anger is also directed towards National who seem to be doing all they can to upset people since they were re-elected. Not the least with their unnecessary mission to change the flag and now this, another farcical and unnecessary situation. The proposal from Iwi should never have got to the negotiating table.