5 Sep 2012

King calls national hui over water rights

5:40 am on 5 September 2012

The Maori King has called a national hui for iwi and hapu to discuss water rights after the Government refused to call one.

The Crown on Monday said it would delay the partial sale of shares in Mighty River Power until 2013 to allow more time to consult with Maori after an interim report from the Waitangi Tribunal found that Maori have proprietary rights over water.

The sale is now expected to take place between March and June next year.

The Crown is refusing to talk with the Maori Council, the body that took a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal over water rights. Instead, it is choosing to talk directly with iwi along the Waikato River that would be affected by the sale.

The situation has prompted the Maori King to become involved.

Spokesperson Tukoroirangi Morgan says Kingi Tuheitia has called a national summit which will be held at Turangawaewae marae in Ngaruawahia next week.

This hui is separate to one being planned by the Maori Council.

Mr Morgan says Tuheitia has invited the council to talk at the summit and it is a chance for Ngai Maori to meet and discuss water rights.

The hui will be the first in almost 30 years. The last iwi meeting on this scale was held over Maori fishing rights in 1985.

Forum member says council has done its job

A member of the Iwi Chairs Forum says it might be time for the Maori Council to step aside from the water rights debate.

Haami Piripi is thankful the council took the claim to the Waitangi Tribunal.

However, he believes the council has done its job proving through the tribunal that Maori have proprietary rights and the Government is acting on the interim report.

Mr Piripi says perhaps the role of the council is now not as a lead advocate, but as a watchdog over what happens next.