Every ground of the Maori water rights challenge to the government plan to sell down shares in Mighty River Power have been thrown out by the High Court.
In a lengthy and detailed judgment just released, Justice Ron Young has rejected every argument put up by Maori interests in relation to water rights.
As earlier indicated, this means the Maori argument is expected to bypass the Court of Appeal and continue to the Supreme Court.
Justice Young says he is satisfied the Crown’s commencement decision, amendment to the constitution of the Mighty River Power decision and the sale of Mighty River shares were not reviewable.
He has also found there are no grounds to review the government’s moves to transfer all four state-owned enterprises, including Mighty River Power, from an SOE to a mixed ownership model.
Justice Young says there is also no breach of the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Claims (Waikato River) Settlement Act 2010 and the sale of shares is not a sale which requires the Crown to engage with Waikato-Tainui.
“I do not consider that the Crown was obliged to allow the Waitangi Tribunal process to be finished.”
Justice Young has left the door open to the Crown to seek costs, by filing a memorandum in the next 21 days.
However, he earlier acknowledged this decision would unlikely be the final word and said he expected an appeal. In a statement, the Maori Council set it was woring on an appeal.
Shares in Mighty River Power are expected to be sold first, with the government aiming for a March-June 2013 timeframe.
RAW DATA: High Court Judgment - The Maori Council v The Attorney-General (PDF)