Finance Minister Bill English and State Services Minister Tony Ryall have asked the Waitangi Tribunal for more information on its findings, recommendations and supporting reasoning in its inquiry into national fresh water and geothermal resources.
“The Government wants to consider the Tribunal’s recommendations and the reasons behind them as part of its decision on the Mighty River Power share offer this year,” they say.
“As we have said, we want to act in good faith and carefully consider the Tribunal’s recommendations.
“However, we appreciate the Tribunal’s interim direction on 30 July did not make substantive findings on any of the issues it identified. So we have today asked the Tribunal to provide its recommendations and reasoning by 24 August.
“To proceed with a Mighty River share offer in 2012, ministers would need to make decisions by the first week of September.
“We would do this on the basis of all the information available to us at that time, including the Waitangi Tribunal’s memorandum of 30 July.
“However, ministers would welcome the opportunity to consider the Tribunal’s detailed findings, its recommendations and its reasoning, which we do not have at this stage.”
Not all Maori are happy about the Maori Council’s decision to take the issue of water ownership to the Tribunal.
Whatever motives the Maori Council had in taking the claim to the tribunal, the fact is the Maori Council in its own cognisance does not have any “rights” either to a global water resource, or a particular lake or river. Iwi or hapu may establish an “interest,” and there has been some push-back from iwi who believe the Maori Council claim could put their individual claims at risk.
Given this it’s easy to wonder if the Council is at least as much about delaying the asset sales as it is about claims to the water.
Otherwise why (or wai) now?
Contact Energy is a private company which uses the Clutha River and has been doing so for decades.
There are private and public water schemes the length and breadth of the country which take water for personal and commercial use, many of which have been doing so for more than 100 years.
None of these have been regarded as endangering any interest Maori might have in the rivers.
Why would the partial float of Mighty River Power be any different?