18 Sep 2012

PM 'not culturally ignorant'

12:02 pm on 18 September 2012

The Prime Minister says he is not culturally ignorant about Maori water rights - he just holds a different view to that of many iwi.

John Key was accused of ignorance after disagreeing with the King Tuheitia over whether Maori own rivers and lakes.

At last week's national hui, the King asserted that Maori do own the water and that has been handed down through the generations.

In response, Mr Key reiterated his view that no one - including Maori - own the resource, but the Government does acknowledge certain rights and interests.

The King's political spokesman, Tukoroirangi Morgan, then called him culturally ignorant, which Mr Key rejects.

"Well obviously I don't agree with that. At the end of the day there's a view some, clearly the Maori King who Tuku Morgan these days works for, that Maori own the water. I think that's totally wrong."

The Prime Minister says the Government sees the co-governance of the Waikato River as a prototype, but that would not give iwi the right of veto over developments or resource consent authority.