I’m pretty liberal on issues to do with the Treaty of Waitangi, customary rights, common law rights, historical settlements. I’ve said I accept some Iwi have some rights around some water.
However I will never accept this view:
King Tuheitia said Maori had always owned the water.
Sorry, no you do not. You get certain rights from having moved here 600 years or so before the rest of us, but you do not get to claim ownership of all the water in New Zealand. We do not live in a country where the first wave of immigrants get all the rights, and the second wave get no rights over essential resources such as water.
The power to manage and control water and allocate water rights should rest with Maori, rather than the regional councils, he said.
This would make all non-Maori an inferior class of citizen.
If those who attended the hui wish to assert they own all the water in New Zealand, and that Maori should have total control of water management and allocation, they of course have that right. But they are risking a huge backlash that will dry up the considerable good will that exists in this country and allows settlements such as Tuhoe to have broad political support.
It would be relatively easy to get 300,000 signatures on a CIR on the topic “Should Maori own, manage and allocate water rights in New Zealand”. It would be an ugly divisive campaign, and set race relations back considerably. But it would get a record turnout, and a record no vote.
Now not all those who attended the Hui share the view of King Tuheitia that Maori own all the water in New Zealand, and should manage, control and allocate water rights. Ngai Tahi saud:
Ngai Tahu chairman Mark Solomon said Maori all agreed on a collaborative approach toward settling water issues.
“From a Ngai Tahu perspective we don’t believe the asset sales will affect the rights and interests of Maori from reaching an agreement.”
The issue of whether or not asset sales impact any water rights that Maori do have, is one the courts will decide, so I’m not too worried about that particular issue.
The issue that worries me is having the Maori King assert ownership of all water in New Zealand. I do not believe that view can be left unchecked. I hope media ask Labour’s Maori MPs if they agree with that view. Ask the Greens also – in fact all Maori MPs in Parliament.
I also do not think that would be the view of the majority of Maori living in New Zealand.