Topics: Environment, Rereātea - Midday News

Iwi leaders reject govt freshwater initiative

By Jessica Tyson

Iwi leaders have rejected the government's plans for a new Māori working group on freshwater management.

Environment Minister David Parker announced the Kāhui Wai Māori proposal at the National Iwi Chairs Forum hui earlier this month.

Chair of the Pou Taiao Iwi Leaders Group Herewini Parata rejected the offer because he says there was no prior engagement on the initiative.

“Its terms and membership are to be determined by the Crown.  That does not reflect a relationship of partnership under Te Tiriti o Waitangi."

He says the Iwi Chairs Forum was disappointed about the approach.

"As a result, the National Iwi Chairs Forum and the Pou Taiao Iwi Leaders Group will not be nominating members to this roopu," says Parata.

Meanwhile, Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Lisa Tumahai, confirmed to Ministers that Ngāi Tahu will not be supporting Te Kāhui Wai Māori and will instead be seeking direct engagement with the Crown.

“As the Treaty partner in our takiwā, Ngāi Tahu are seeking direct engagement with the Crown on freshwater issues and we look forward to working with them on this important kaupapa.”

The Pou Taiao Iwi Leaders Group will continue to progress its own work in relation to fresh water, working on regionally focused catchment-based systems for fresh water.

This includes developing a set of tools to assist iwi and hapū to determine solutions for their unique hydrological situations and advancing issues relating to water quality and clean drinking water for Māori communities.

The Pou Taiao Iwi Leaders Group is also clear that Te Mana o te Wai must be upheld and Iwi and hapū rights and interests must be recognised as fundamental elements of any new policy development relating to fresh water.

 "We also remain willing to engage directly with the Crown. However, any such engagement process must be developed collaboratively and any appointments made jointly; not determined unilaterally as the Crown has done." says Parata.