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The government has been advised by the Waitangi Tribunal not to go ahead with partial asset sales until the issue of Maori water rights has been properly reviewed.
The Maori Council submitted an urgent claim that the sale of Might River Power shares later this year should be halted until Maori water rights and interests have been defined.
An interim decision has now been released by the Waitangi Tribunal, which heard the claim.
Among its claims:
- It has recommended the Crown not go ahead with its proposed partial privatisation of SOEs until the tribunal has at least had a chance to issue its full decision on stage one of this Inquiry;
- The stage one decision is due in September this year;
- The September decision will also address the issue of whether a delay in the share sale should be recommended on a slightly longer term basis;
- The tribunal has found that the issue of Maori proprietary interests to water resources is a serious issue that needs to be resolved;
- The tribunal further held that a delay until September would not cause significant prejudice to the Governments policy;
- There is no guarantee that this decision will be followed by a further recommendation of a delay in September
Maori Council lawyer Felix Geiringer told NBR ONLINE he is happy with the decision and it’s everything he could’ve hoped for at this stage.
“We are very grateful to the tribunal for all of the hard work and the effort the members of the panel and the tribunal staff have put in to hear the first stage of the Inquiry and to have this decision out in such a brief time frame.”
The tribunal said this is an issue of national important and has been before maori and the crown for a considerable time – a fact which is reflected in the previous waitangi tribunal reports on freshwater and geothermal issues.
State owned enterprises Minister Tony Ryall says his government will take time to review the decision.
“In the coming days, ministers will receive advice from officials to help them carefully consider the government’s position . We have also undertaken to meet the Maori Party’s co-leaders as we develop our respective positions."