By Tova O’Brien
Lawyers representing the Crown at an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing have acknowledged Maori do have rights to water, including water used by state owned energy companies being primed for sale.
It is a different line from the one the prime minister has been using - that no one owns the water.
Maori Council co-chair Maanu Paul said he believes it has given them an advantage.
“If I were a betting man I think I’m on the favourite. I think we’re riding a winning horse here,” said Mr Paul.
His optimism comes after Crown lawyer Paul Radich acknowledged that Maori do have interests in water.
That includes water used by energy companies the Government plans to sell.
The Crown says Maori water rights need to be defined but that those rights will not be affected by selling energy assets. This is because energy companies have limited rights and a limited time to use water, and because shareholding isn't a right of governance or management within a company.
Ultimately it will come down to the tribunal ruling at the end of the month and whether the prime minister chooses to listen.
If he does not – expect the fight to get louder.
source: newshub archive