Prime Minister John Key says the government is going ahead with the partial float of Mighty river Power and has rejected the concept of shares plus which was suggested by the Waitangi Tribunal.
“First, the Government will not implement the Waitangi Tribunal’s ‘shares plus’ concept, or engage in further negotiations in relation to that concept, before the sale of shares in our energy companies.
“Second, the Government will proceed to remove Mighty River Power from the State Owned Enterprises Act. We will prepare an Order in Council for Cabinet and Executive Council to consider and approve on Tuesday 23 October.
“And finally, we will direct officials to continue to work towards a sale of up to 49 per cent of the shares in Mighty River Power between March and June 2013.” . . .
Mr Key says the series of hui on ‘shares plus’ was part of the Government’s commitment to consult with Māori in good faith.
“From the series of the hui, and the written submissions the Government received, it is clear Māori claim a wide range of rights and interests in water.”
Mr Key says the Government’s position on water has always been very clear:
- In common law no one owns water.
- Maori do have rights and interests in water, and these will continue to be addressed through a range of processes such as Treaty settlements, the Government’s Fresh Start for Fresh Water programme and dialogue with iwi leaders.
- The partial sale of Mighty River Power does not impact on the Crown’s ability to recognise Maori rights and interests in water.
“Following analysis of the oral submissions made at hui, along with the written submissions, the Government’s view is that no new information has come to light to change our preliminary view – which is, that the concept of ‘shares plus’ should not be progressed,” says Mr Key.
The key findings from the consultation on ‘shares plus’ show:
- Financial redress and input into resource management decisions can be provided in other – and in some cases better – ways.
- Appointing directors and exercising shareholder voting rights can also be achieved in other ways with the Crown, which will remain the controlling shareholder.
- The Crown does not believe that providing iwi with special rights in making management decisions will work well and most submitters who considered the idea agreed.
- ‘Shares plus’ would create a potential conflict of interest within and between different iwi groups. And it would potentially weaken existing relationships between iwi groups and the SOEs.
Mr Key says the decisions announced today may lead to legal action from the Māori Council and others.
“That’s entirely a matter for them. From the Government’s perspective, it would not be unexpected. . . .
This decision isn’t unexpected but it is welcome.
The partial sale of Mighty river Power was an election commitment by National.
The proceeds are needed to enable the government to put money into other assets without increasing debt.
Maori as a whole have never been recognised as owners of water in general.
Any claims by individual iwi to an interest in particular bodies of water can be addressed without affecting the partial sale.