27 Jun 2012

Supreme Court ruling puts riverbed ownership in question

2:02 pm on 27 June 2012

A Supreme Court ruling has opened the way for a North Island hapu to try to claim ownership of a section of the Waikato riverbed.

The Pouakani hapu had claimed an interest in part of the riverbed beside land that was purchased by the Crown in the late 19th Century.

The High Court and Court of Appeal had ruled the riverbed was transferred to the Crown under the Coal Mines Amendment Act in 1903.

The Supreme Court heard the case in March and on Wednesday overturned the Appeal Court ruling, leaving the riverbed's ownership in question.

Lawyer for the hapu Ian Millard says they will now return to the Supreme Court to argue it should belong to them.

"Our argument there is, when Maori sold the land they thought they were only selling the visible land.

"They would not have realised that they would be selling out to the mid-point of the river."