31 Jan 2013

Maori Council delivers water argument to Supreme Court

7:40 pm on 31 January 2013

The Maori Council's water rights argument has been heard in the Supreme Court.

Lawyers for the council and a group of Waikato Maori trusts are appealing against a High Court ruling that there is no connection between the sale of shares in Mighty River Power and the need to address Maori claims to water.

The Government plans to sell up to 49% of the state-owned hydro generator this year if the court ruling is in its favour.

The council's lead lawyer, Colin Carruthers QC, on Thursday spoke about past legal cases taken by Maori groups relating to lands and broadcasting assets - as well as fishing quotas.

A panel of five judges asked the council's legal team, why addressing Maori water rights after beginning the state asset sell-off impairs tangata whenua.

The Crown has already started putting its argument before the judges, and is due to continue its case on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Maori council's solicitor, Donna Hall, has been responsible for making changes to its legal team.

She says it is lucky to have Mr Carruthers because he has extensive experience.

Ms Hall says he was a leading counsel in the Maori Fisheries case, as well as being fabulous at presenting an argument in court.

She says he is the right barrister to represent the Maori Council.