30 Mar 2012

Paul confident cases will be ready in time for urgent hearing

6:46 am on 30 March 2012

A spokesperson for Maori claims to freshwater, Maanu Paul, says claimants are well able to get their cases together in time for an urgent hearing.

The Waitangi Tribunal has granted the council and 10 hapu an urgent hearing of their claims involving the partial sale of hydro-power companies, and their grievances involving rivers, springs, lakes and aquifers.

The Crown opposed the application for urgency and cast doubt on the ability of the claimants to get their cases prepared in time.

But Mr Paul says some of the hapu have already had their basic claims upheld by the tribunal and much of the hard work has been done.

The tribunal says the urgent hearing will determine Maori rights in regard to freshwater, in time to inform the Government's thinking on the sale of power company shares and the potential creation of tradeable water rights later this year, in freshwater management reforms.

The iwi leaders forum has been in discussion with the Government about freshwater management, and argued against the urgent hearing of the hapu claims, out of concern it will disrupt those talks.

But it supported the hearing of the claim involving the sale of shares in the state-owned power companies.