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Govt to Waitangi Tribunal: crack on, or 2012 Mighty River sale off

Ministers sent the Waitangi Tribunal a firm "get on with it" message yesterday afternoon.

Finance Minister Bill English and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall sent the tribunal a memo to the effect that if it cannot report back by August 24 on the substantive issues relating to the sale of up to 49% of Mighty River Power, then the sale programme is off – for this year anyway.

The tribunal released its interim report on Monday and said its full report would not be released until some time in September.

Much of the 13-page interim report canvassed historical processes the tribunal has followed and summarised the submissions from the parties, but made no recommendations on the main issues.

The report ended by stating the tribunal intends to take its time.

The tribunal seems to have put a great deal of emphasis on comments from  the Crown’s main witness, Treasury Secretary John Crawford, to the effect the latest period for the share float was sometime between September and December.

Mr Crawford had been asked about the timing of a final report in September and had told the tribunal that, without wanting to commit the Crown, this was roughly the sort of timing expected.

The Crown modified this towards the end of the hearings, with its lawyer saying it hoped to have the report by the end of August.

“Taking this submission along with the statements of the Treasury witness, the tribunal infers that there will either be a minimal delay to the Crown's current plans if a report is issued in September, or no delay at all,"  the tribunal concludes.

"We therefore conclude that the Crown ought not to commence the sale of shares in any of the mixed ownership model companies until we have had the opportunity to complete our report on stage one of this inquiry and the Crown has had the opportunity to give this report, and any recommendations it contains, in-depth and considered examination.”

This means, the report said, some time in September.

That is not good enough, ministers have told the tribunal.

“As we have said, we want to act in good faith and carefully consider the tribunal’s recommendations,” the ministers said this afternoon.

“However, we appreciate the tribunal’s interim direction on July 30 did not make substantive findings on any of the issues it identified.

“So we have today asked the tribunal to provide its recommendations and reasoning by August 24.”

If the float is to go ahead this year, decisions need to be made by the first week of September.

“The tribunal expressed a view that there would be minimal or no delay to the share offer if it reported on stage one of its inquiry by the end of September,” the ministers say.

“However, there are a limited number of windows each year in which a share offer can take place.

“Delaying a decision beyond the first week of September and losing the 2012 window for the offer would have significant consequences, not only for the Mighty River Power offer, but also in delaying the rest of the share offer programme over the next two years.”

More by Rob Hosking

Comments and questions

The first mistake giving in to the Waitangi tribunal and the Maori Council
harden up Billy & Tony

This is ludicrous - there is absolutely no way that Maori will have any right to water - it belongs to every New Zealander.
This is not helping this country move forward and the people behind it need to realise it and stop being greedy.

As a staunch pakeha I wish the Maori every success in their efforts to secure a property claim over the rivers of New Zealand, (especially the mighty Waikato). Maori are often derided for selling their land for a few muskets and some blankets, so it is good to see them standing up for their heritage. If they are successful then this will be a huge step forward for New Zealand and all of its people.

The vast majority of people don't want state assets sold and so groups are putting up as many road-blocks as possible.
It's not really about water, disputes are rarely about any one single thing.

Since when was the WT voted in to govern NZ??

Sweet! Go you mighty Waitangi bros! If they can delay the sale till past September its a dead duck as market turbulence from September onwards (ie falling markets) will turn the whole SOE float into a disaster.

Then National will be forced to make savings where they should have done all along to balance the books; cut WFF credits, end interest free student loans and raise the superan age. Sweet!

Right On. Bring back market rents for ALL state houses!


This water ownership debacle is a disgrace ...The government needs to harden up and put the Waitangi Tribunal where it belongs...on the scrap heap. The WT is nothing but trouble for this country. We, as a country are in dire straits financially and socially.....and all we constantly hear about (on a daily basis) are claims..what next are we going to sit by and watch a claim for the very air that we breath!!! Don't laugh, anything is possible in this weak knead and spineless country. To you Maori 'academics'....... get a life and start living like the rest of us ie; do a decent days work for a decent days pay. All the 'historical manipulation' and

Continuing...... and looser mentality is becoming a little sickening. One thing you lot jhave proven time and again is that unity as a country (one people) is something that you do not wish. You are a bunch of selfish, arrogant and self serving prats. John Key, it is time you hardened up and started leading this country in a unified are not looking after my rights as a Pakeha citizen...what am I going to tell my grand kids when they ask "why do we have to pay to go to the beach?" Aussie is looking more inviting by the day..they know how to stand up to demanding minorities....

Come on National. You were elected to govern. so govern !

Nz is run by a dictator

Much more rain and I will be wanting to sue some Maori tribe near to where we live, as I tell you we are inundated with the dammed stuff, so they are welcome to own it, and much more welcome to come and remove it and pay out for the damage.

It is outrageous that our country is being held to ransom by the Waitangi tribunal and the Maori council.The water belongs to all New Zealanders got it.John Key we are fed up with pandering to Maori groups.Just what sort of country are you running here.We did not vote you in to do this,do you understand.
Listen to us now.Throw the Maoris out disband the Waitangi tribunal or we the people of New Zealand will do it for you.

People should have thought more carefully back in the 1980's when they elected the Lange government, which was clearly destined to patronise Maori with an expansion of the Kirk govt's minor recognition of the original Treaty document.
This whole exercise was about buying Maori votes for Labour; and it has been the main reason why the country has stagnated.

it just keeps getting better

If Collins wants to save millions from the legal aid budget, start by abolishing the Waitangi Tribunal - a political lobbyist masquerading as a court.

Get rid of the filthy horis.

I think you are all missing an important point here. Bill and John would be quite happy for the asset sales to be prevented by the Waitangi Tribunal. It is an unpopular policy that they need a face-saving way out of. Ever since the TV news that showed both Bill and John separately saying 'it is law now unless someone succeeds in getting an injunction against it' with a big grin on their faces, I have been expecting this outcome.

Yep it's a win-win. An ill-fated and disastrously -timed initiative can be shelved while the blame can be sheeted home to someone other than the Government. The Maori Party takes the "credit" and shows its constituency that it is no lap-dog.

We should be all one people in one country.Wonderful news that for now assest sales might be off.only prob is the maori billion dollar gravy train is long far past a joke. The aquickest best way to save big money and much more, get the horrible old worn out ..//..outdated treaty a really big SHOVE and nz would be millions better off to help ALL people.

"begging" is the correct word here.

NZ needs to move forward, grow and further develop. This cant happen if we still have people arguing for things they lost generations ago. If they want the rivers etc, give it to them but take back everything else they get for free. The Iwis, regardless of who they are and what they lost, should, like all NZers, work hard to earn a living and should only be making a claim on things they actually own.

This is a 'p*ssing in the wind' situation for those involved

AT some stage surely, the eelctorate of NZ must realise that neither the Waitangi Tribunal, Maori Court nor the Unions are the legitimate government of NZ. These organisations are just ideologically deluded obstructionist groups, given legitimacy by our Media.