One of the key figures in the hui called this week by the Maori king to discuss water rights is suggesting that councils lose the right to allocate water from the Waikato River.
Spokesman for the king and co-chair of the Waikato River Authority, Tuku Morgan, says the authority could take over the allocation of water.
The authority is a joint iwi-Crown body principally concerned with cleaning up the river under a co-management deal.
Speaking on TV3’s The Nation programme at the weekend, Mr Morgan said the deal did not give the authority the right to allocate water.
“For that to change it’s got to go to another set of negotiations with the crown and that comes under the ambit of who determines water rights.”
Mr Morgan said he did not want to pre-empt the outcome of next week’s hui.
But the river authority was well placed to assume the kind of responsibilities that were currently held with the regional council.
“That’s an issue to be taken and debated by members of the authority – we haven’t had that discussion,” he said.
“As members are not responsible for that at the moment. That will come out of a decision after negotiations with the Crown.
“If the river authority were to assume the current responsibility of the regional council it would be exactly what the council does – they charge for water, they allocate water.
“And if the Crown was of a view to pass that responsibility to the Waikato River Authority they’ll have to come and talk to us.”
Mr Morgan stressed the importance of this week’s hui.
“It is without a doubt the most significant issue to challenge our people.
“It’s the reason why we must talk in our unique way in our own time and our own space and on Turangaweiwei."
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