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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.
State-owned enterprises Minister Tony Ryall says the 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."
The Maori Council submitted an urgent claim to the Waitangi Tribunal aimed at stopping the sale of Mighty River Power shares later this year until Maori water rights and interests have been defined.
In an interim decision, the Waitangi Tribunal says:
• 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 the issue of Maori proprietary interests to water resources is a serious issue which needs to be resolved.
• The tribunal further held that a delay until September would not cause significant prejudice to the government’s policy.
• There is no guarantee 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 is everything he could have hoped for at this stage.
The tribunal says it is an issue of national importance and has been before Maori and the Crown for a considerable time – which is reflected in the previous tribunal reports on freshwater and geothermal issues.