Powerful iwi boss refuses to back Maori Council legal action over asset sales
Powerful iwi boss Mark Solomon refuses to back Maori Council legal action over partial asset sales.
"All it does is give the lawyers the new Mercedes every year," he said on Q+A this morning.
The Ngai Tahu chairman would prefer a negotiated agreement.
Mr Solomon disagrees with the Waitangi Tribunal’s ruling that pressing ahead with partial asset sales is a “breach” of the Treaty, saying the Crown has acknowledged Maori rights to water.
Personally, he says he is “leery” and “a bit uncomfortable” with selling shares in state assets.
Maori have proprietary rights to water as “first people” of New Zealand and deserve input into its governance and allocation, he says. He’s told the PM that “consistently”.
But Maori don’t own water by title. “That is a Pakeha concept. When I look at the concept of ownership within a Maori paradigm, I believe it’s about you have a right of use to use the fruits,” Mr Solomon says.
“We cannot stand up and ask the government to recognise our rights and interests in water by advocating the taking away of rights and interests of other people.”
The sell-down of Mighty River Power and other assets will not undermine Ngai Tahu’s water rights.
Ngai Tahu has redistributed nearly $230 million since its Treaty settlement, but the message from iwi members is that money should be spent on “a hand up, not a hand out,” the chairman says.
“We cannot cure the social ills of Maori overnight, ”but people who criticise iwi for not doing enough about Maori poverty are “ill-informed”.
Iwi should not have to become “brown welfare”.
“We are taxpayers, and we have the same right to access to Crown funding for social delivery as every other sector of society," Mr Solomon says.
Watch Mark Solomon's Q+A interview here.