Maori are going to go after water as the next grievance claim….and it appears that Bill English and Nick Smith are entertaining their claims and negotiating with them instead of telling them to piss off.
Maori leaders have mounted a bid for effective ownership of a share of the country’s freshwater.
This would allow them, and other with water rights, to onsell it to those who need water for irrigation, hydropower and other commercial uses.
Talks between the powerful Iwi Leaders Group and the Government, fronted by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Environment Minister Nick Smith, are at a critical stage after ministers rejected a nationwide ‘Waterlords’ settlement along the lines of the Sealords deal over Maori commercial fishing claims.
The Government is adamant it will not hand over rights in perpetuity to Maori – but it may compromise by allowing regional councils to do local deals with Maori.
Farmers are worried that there will not be enough water to go around if significant quantities of freshwater are set aside for Maori.
In a Cabinet paper, Smith points to possible “catchment by catchment” deals at a regional government level. The Crown has acknowledged Maori interests and rights in freshwater but their extent and nature is at issue. The Government may set criteria by which local iwi can get preferential access to water, catchment by catchment, Smith says.
Ministers and iwi leaders held a summit at Waitangi during the February 6 commemorations, in a swift response to an iwi- commissioned report proposing radical ways to deal with freshwater and Maori claims. The report, by research group Sapere, proposed a nationwide settlement, an end to 35-year renewals of water consents. and a move to permanent rights and a market in tradable water rights.
It argued the regime would not only be a boon for Maori but would add $2 billion to the value of power-generating assets, $5.5b to the primary sector and boost the overall economy, while helping reduce the effects of drought through more efficient use of water. It would also open the way for the Government to levy resource taxes on income from using the water.
If National wants to lose more than just Northland they will keep on going with this process under the control of Bill English and Nick Smith. Read more »