18 Dec 2012

Water rights case going to Supreme Court

7:11 pm on 18 December 2012

The water rights case brought by the Maori Council is to be heard by the Supreme Court.

The Council and Waikato iwi are worried the forthcoming sale of Mighty River Power by the Government will jeopardise the ability of Maori to claim water rights in the future.

On 11 December, Justice Young ruled in the High Court in Wellington that the Crown did not act against the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Maori Council and the Waikato River and Dams Claims Trust lodged an appeal in both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Maori Council deputy chair Rahui Katene said the Supreme Court has granted a direct hearing, rather than sending the case to the Court of Appeal first.

She said the case will be heard at the end of January. It is set down for two days.

Meanwhile, Maori Council solicitor Donna Hall predicts the Council's bid to debate Maori water rights in the Supreme Court could cost at least $250,000.

The Supreme Court has granted the council and the Waikato River and Dams Claims Trust a two-day hearing at the end of January.

The Council and the Trust lost their fight over Maori water rights in the High Court last week.

They want the government to delay its plan to sell shareholdings in some state-assets including Mighty River Power until Maori interests in water are resolved.

Ms Hall the Maori Council plans to ask iwi for financial help to fund its case in the Supreme Court.

She says there won't be any change from $250,000 for the hearing in the Supreme Court.

Ms Hall says these are terrible amounts of money but the cost reflects what lawyers can ask for.