12 Mar 2013

UN official doubts SOE sales will respect Maori water rights

7:35 am on 12 March 2013

A United Nations' official doubts the New Zealand Government will fully respect Maori water rights as it proceeds with selling shareholdings in some state assets.

Pre-registrations from potential investors wanting to buy shares in Mighty River Power are under way as the Government prepares to sell up to 49% of the state owned energy company.

A recent UN Elimination of Racial Discrimination Committee report into New Zealand's race relations recommended 16 areas of improvement.

Among the suggestions, it urges the Government to ensure that any privatisation of energy companies be pursued in a manner that fully respects the rights of Maori communities to freshwater and geothermal resources, as protected by the Treaty.

Valmaine Toki is a New Zealand member of a UN forum and suspects the suggestion won't be followed.

She said the same committee previously provided a recommendation on the Foreshore and Seabed Act which the Government chose not to adopt. She said its suggestion appeared to be ignored and belittled.

Ms Toki hopes this time around the Government will adhere to the UN suggestion on Maori water rights but believes the state will continue with share sales without fully respecting Maori interest in water.