Asset sales protest takes to the river

8:05 pm on 12 May 2013

Two waka ama crews took to the Waikato River in a protest against asset sales.

The protest was organised by the Mana Party and involves two of the racing outrigger canoes paddling from Hamilton to Ngaruawahia.

Twelve paddlers, both men and women, set off down the river in the canoes, followed by a support boat. About 20 people were on hand to farewell them.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira and wife Hilda were among the crew.

He said the protest reiterates the message that people are still opposed to asset sales, even with Mighty River Power having been partially sold and already listed on the stock exchange.

"This is about Maori people's rights to the river, this is about New Zealanders' opposition to the sale of assets, this is about people being worried about electricity price rises."

Mr Harawira said the Waikato River is the source of most of Mighty River Power's electricity generation.

Another of the paddlers was the party's vice president John Minto who says the protest was symbolic.

He says the Government is hell bent on privatising and selling off public assets.

Mr Minto says the Waikato River is a taonga for everyone and Sunday was about reclaiming it for the community.

He says the power companies will eventually be bought back by the Government.

The Mana Party-organised protest took to the river.

The Mana Party-organised protest took to the river. Photo: RNZ