Water rights and housing hot topics for Iwi Leaders

By Maiki Sherman
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty
Iwi leaders at Iwi Chairs Forum in Tauranga

Allocation rights over water and a moratorium on government state housing sales are just some of the major issues discussed by the Iwi Chairs Forum at its meeting in Tauranga.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Environment Minister Nick Smith were in attendance today and iwi leaders didn’t hold back in their discussions.

The Iwi Chairs Forum and Crown Ministers have been discussing water rights for quite a while now, which is why Sir Toby Curtis says it’s time to move beyond the pleasantries. 

The call to Ministers is to recognise Māori allocation rights over water, rights which are currently held by regional councils.  Nick Smith’s advice – engage with those councils.

The Minister says the solution to that will come by way of changes to the RMA, where he says iwi will be given stronger recognition.

Housing was another issue discussed with ministers.  The Iwi Chairs Forum is calling on the government for a moratorium on the sale of Housing New Zealand stock until both parties reach a purchasing agreement. 

Willie Te Aho says it’s not a strategy to simply make money but rather it’s about providing a social support mechanism for their people.

At the moment, some iwi have right of first refusal to purchase state housing, time will tell whether government will expand that to iwi across the country.