Air claim not corrosive – Ngapuhi
Ngapuhi spokesman David Rankin denies the Waitangi Treaty claim on air will harm race relations or undermine Maori attempts to push a separate claim on water rights.
"It’s not corrosive. It’s actually about lighting a fire under the opinion of people in this country to actually realise you don’t sell your assets. If you sell your home and become a tenant, you’re always a tenant. You’ll never own again," Mr Rankin said on TVNZ's Breakfast.
The Ngapuhi-backed air claim was motivated by government moves to partially privatise companies generating hydropower, he said.
He accepted the power companies had nothing to do with air, but added, "It will move to the wind. It is a preemptive claim. The operative word is pre-emptive".
"So you're claiming for something that hasn't happened yet?" asked AUT Professor Paul Moon, a Treaty expert who also appeared on the programme.
"Well, you know – why do you get insurance?" replied Mr Rankin.
Right to dismiss fivilous claims
Prof Moon noted legislation gives the Waitangi Tribunal the power to dismiss any claim it considers fivilous, trivial or vexacious.
He did not consider air claim proponents had proved a Treaty breach.
"The key point is you can't quantify air as a commodity. You can with fish, you can with water."
No opportunity cost
The AUT academic also underlined the opportunity cost point he first made to NBR ONLINE yesterday.
Use of water by one group could deplete it for others. But "if you set up a huge wind farm in Masterton, there's still going to be a lot of wind in Wellington".
Wind could be thought of as a taonga or treasure to Maori, Prof Moon said, but that did not mean the Crown had breached the Treaty.
Use of wind by a power company would not reduce the wind available or exclude the possibility of an iwi-backed group setting up its own commercial wind farm, resouces consents allowing, he said.
Undeterred, Mr Rankin said it was clear Prime Minister John Key took the water claim seriously.
"He’s interrupted his holiday in Stalingrad" to discuss the issue.
Mr Key did address the air claim issue from the APEC summit in Vladivostok, but he made a similar point to Prof Moon, comparing air to another non-depletable resource – sunlight
"The government rejects the idea that anyone can own it," he said.