Maori Council's fanciful water-rights appeal

The Maori Council is once again confident it can put a halt to National’s partial asset sales plan, despite December’s High Court rejection.

It would say that, but, nevertheless, it will be an uphill battle for the council to convince the Supreme Court it should intervene.

Last month, the council was given permission to take its application for review straight to the Supreme Court, leapfrogging the Court of Appeal in the process.

Doubtless, much of the council's argument is likely to be based around the yet-to-be-specified "principles of the Treaty" and the fanciful notion theTreaty is New Zealand's "founding document" – when it is no such thing.

The two-day hearing gets under way today before Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias, a known Waitangi Treaty sympathiser, and Justices John McGrath, William Young, Susan Glazebrook and Robert Chambers.

The Supreme Court says the single ground for appeal is whether the High Court and Justice Ron Young were right to dismiss the application for review.

Felix Geiringer has been dropped as the council’s lead lawyer and will instead assist Queen’s Counsel Colin Carruthers (68).

The Waikato River and Dams Claims Trust and the Poukani Claims Trust will also be represented at the hearing.

Confident of a favourable outcome

Maori Council deputy chairwoman and former Maori party MP Rahui Katene says the council is confident of a favourable outcome.

However, that is what they said last time.

“We’ve got really good legal advice and we are confident this bench has a lot of experience – not only in treaty issues and Maori issues in general, but also in the law – and that they’ll be able to look at it a lot wider than what one judge was able to do before,” Ms Katene told NBR ONLINE.

She says it is a very technical argument with a “narrow base”.

“The lawyers have got all the submissions in and it’s just a matter of making the oral submissions today and answering any questions the judges have.”

Although Ms Katene is unsure when the decision would be delivered, she is hopeful it will come out relatively efficiently, to meet the government’s timetable, which includes plans to sell Mighty River Power shares in the first half of this year.

That is if the decision goes the government’s way.

Justice Ron Young took less than a month to reject the Maori Council’s initial application.

He essentially found the case and the arguments put forward had no legal basis for success.

Justice Young said he was satisfied the Crown’s commencement decision, amendment to the constitution of the Mighty River Power decision, and that 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 owed enterprises, including Mighty River Power, from an SOE to a mixed ownership model.

Justice Young said there was also no breach of the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Claims (Waikato River) Settlement Act 2010 and the sale of shares was not a sale which required the crown to engage with Waikato-Tainui.

bcunningham@nbr.co.nz

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12 Comments & Questions

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The state of the river is part of manawhenua. Simple. You cannot sell the health of the river or deny a culture its right to life. Nor can you dictate the terms of that right.

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So we have an environmental protection agency and a regional council to look after the river, and there is enough water there to sustain life.
Culture is constantly growing and changing, so cannot ever be preserved in an archaic form.
Your arguments seem to be about something other than the shares.

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That's exactly the point. It's not just about the shares for Maori. Though the rednecks here will constantly say all Maori are interested in is the money.

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Exceptin' when there's a handout to Maori.

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This legal action was always nothing more than a blatant equity grab by Maori, who want to reinvent themselves as a landlord class and lease back the nation's assets to the wider population in perpetuity. That model, while hugley beneficial for Maori, will bankrupt the rest of the nation.
I note also that Maori were silent when other strategic assets were sold off, such as the forests. Not that I support asset sales, but I am sick of this separatist attitude from the Maori minority.

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Agree 100%. The bigger issue, though, is the constitutional review. If the treaty is enshrined in a new constitution as Maori are aiming for we will have two classes of citizen and democracy will be a thing of the past. I urge all thinking New Zealanders to bring themselves up to date on this issue and make a stand. A good place to start is www.nzcprco.nz

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Maoris want, want, want.

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Surely history shows that it is the settlers who 'want, want, want'?

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Maoris should stand in line like the rest of true New Zealanders.

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They have, they are at the back. But that's where they belong, aye Farmer Jack?

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This article states the treaty is not new zealand's founding document. If this is true then what is?

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The treaty is as outdated for the 21st century as the second amendment in the US and its inclusion in the decision making process debases our citizenship. Maori (not all, but only the nativists/separatists) need to realise that they are New Zealanders and not separate from the nation.
Other New Zealandlers also need to accept that Maori are a minority and need some rights as long as they do not infinge upon the general rights of the citizenry. Regarding water rights - they belong to ALL New Zealanders, and are administered by the government. It is not only some Maori who believe that the waterways are polluted and need to be regulated. Privilege based on blood should be relegated to the ash heap of history. We are all equal.

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