Topics: Politics, Water

Supreme Court dismisses Māori Councils claim

  • Wellington

Prime Minister John Key is claiming victory following the Supreme Court's dismissal of the New Zealand Māori Council's appeal. The Council was hoping for a delay in the sale of State Owned Enterprises until the extent of Māori water rights and interests had been determined.

The argument was, if the sales were to proceed, it would constitute a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi.   

The Māori Council says there were still some victories in the decision for them. From the outset, the Government claimed the sale of SOEs did not need to be consistent with the principals of the Treaty, nor would the sales impair the ability to recognise Māori water rights.

This claim was unanimously rejected by the court, however, the commitment made by John Key to adequately resolve Māori rights and interests meant the appeal was dismissed and the sale will proceed.

On Monday, John Key will present this issue to Cabinet and a pathway forward will be set. In terms of the Māori Council, they're heading back to the Waitangi Tribunal for round two of their hearing where the nature and extent of Māori interests in water will be determined.

Through the demands of the Māori Council, the water claim had its hearing before the Waitangi Tribunal and from the start their view was clear.

Chair of the Māori Council, Maanu Paul made it clear thet “the enemy is the Crown, not Māori”

In the end, the Tribunal's main recommendation was to delay the sale of state assets until an agreement was reached between Government and Māori.

However, that didn't happen and Government continued with its sale plan, sparking the Māori King's call for all Māori to unite and form a plan for the battle ahead.

However, it wasn't long before that idea was divided as iwi leaders such as Mark Solomon of Ngāi Tahu opted to speak directly with the Government.

So from there, the issue moved into the courts of law. First was the High Court where the Māori Council claim failed, and eventually it continued to the Supreme Court. A two day hearing was held with the final decision announced today.

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