11 Oct 2012

Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi seek control over water use

7:15 pm on 11 October 2012

The Government says it does not agree with a request from Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi to give them the power to control who can use water.

Ten iwi which make up the Mataatua Assembly presented Prime Minister John Key with a declaration on water in Whakatane on Thursday.

The Mataatua declaration recognises that all people in New Zealand have the right to water, but asserts that Maori have aboriginal title to the use of water in their own tribal regions.

Mataatua Assembly chair Sir Hirini Mead says iwi do not want the rights to water given away, so there is nothing left for tangata whenua, and they want a say in who gets consent to use it.

Sir Hirini says the assembly does not yet have a view on whether iwi should have proprietary rights to water, as ruled by the Waitangi Tribunal earlier this year.

Mr Key says the Government's view has not changed that no one owns the water.

In September, the Government held a series of meetings after it decided to delay the sale of shares in state-owned company Mighty River Power until early 2013.

The meetings consulted iwi and hapu on the Waitangi Tribunal proposal that they be given a special shareholding (known as Shares Plus) in the partially-privatised power companies and rights above those of other shareholders.

The Government rejects that proposal, but talked with iwi who have a specific connection to freshwater and geothermal resources used by state-owned power companies Mighty River Power, Meridian and Genesis.