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Supreme Court throws out Maori Council's Mighty River appeal

The Supreme Court has rejected a Maori Council bid to halt the government’s partial asset sales.

Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias has just delivered the Supreme Court decision, dismissing the council's case – almost a month on from the two-day water rights hearing.

Last December, High Court Judge Ron Young dismissed the council’s attempts to stall the asset sales plan and the council was given leave to appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

It had been trying to halt the sale of up to 49% of Mighty River Power – the first state owned enterprise likely to be sold off in the first half of this year.

The Supreme Court says partial privatisation of Mighty River Power will not impair to a material extent the Crown's ability to remedy any Treaty breach in respect of Maori interest in the river.

A weakness in the Maori Council case was not specifically identifying how privatisation would materially impair rights to redress.

"In a case where we are asked to infer material impairment (a matter not easily suceptible to evidential proof) the lack of specificity makes assessment more difficient," the court says.

The Supreme Court says it is prepared to accept that privatisation "may limit the scope to provide some forms of redress which are currently at least theoretically possible."

But is assessing whether this amounts to "material impairment" the court says "regard must be had to (a) the assurances given by the Crown, (b) the extent to which such options are substnatially in prospect, (c) the capacity of the Crown to provide equivalent and meaningful redress and (d) the proven willingness and ability of the Crown to provide such redress."

While the Maori Council appeal failed, the court says is succeeded on an important point of principle, that the Crown was bound to comply with the "principles of the Treaty" before deciding to sell the shares.


Find the full decision here

More by Blair Cunningham and Jock Anderson

Comments and questions

Common sense has prevailed. Now get on with it National and govern the nation. You now have another mandate. How many do you need?

Yus !

Excellent, cut thru the BS and get on with it!

Idiotic comment.

I gather there wasn't much money on the Supreme Court delivering any other judgement!

Mark this day in the diary. It will long remebered as the day the courts applied common sense and refused to pander to Maori ... and spare a thought for Donna Hall, etc. Where will the next grievance dollar come from now ... Boo hoo!

Note that the decision doesn't say "Maori dont have have rights to water", just that if they do, there are other ways the Crown can compensate. Therefore no need to hold up.

"While the Maori Council appeal failed, the court says is succeeded on an important point of principle, that the Crown was bound to COMPLY WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF THE TREATY before deciding to sell the shares". IE the Treaty is central to all Government actions and they must be bound by it. Another victory for the application of fairness and justice regardless of race. Now get on with fair and reasonable settlements for the land thefts.

What a joke of a decision.
One law or law for one race?

A victory for common sense!

A miracle! Common sense wins!

The correct decision which importantly reinforces the same decision of the High Court previously. Any other decision would have been a step towards racial seperatism. More importantly, the National government went to the people saying they would progress a mixed ownership model for state assets and they cannot proceed (and as the economy has improved maybe obtain a higher price than would have been possible 12 months ago).

Now maybe the Greenies/Labour will accept that the government has the right to proceed with the mandate given to them in the 2011 election.

More people voted against National than for them. What mandate?

Don't mind the claim. Be shocked if it was taxpayer/legal aid funded.

Thank goodness - I was losing all confidence in the system.

What would be the effect of the government signing the Transpacific Partnership Agreement on Maori 'rights and interests' in water?

Irrespective of what you believe regarding who owns the water, won't the TPPA lock in investors' rights over all others?

Penny Bright

Most agreements NZ enters into (and it would be similar to the TPP) include a 'Treaty Clause' - in essence any international partners are well aware of the unique nature of the obligations we have under the treaty. This enables NZ to act as a global partner and still deal with local commitments. Many other countries also have unique requirements for indigenous needs encapsulated in FTAs.
There is no need to fear the Treaty when dealing with trade agreements.

Yes I agree that commonsence has prevailed.Now the Government has its mandate to proceed with its asset sales - thank goodness. Now watch the IWI trusts etc. line up to buy shares in Mighty River Power.

Any damages coming to the Crown in lieu of the frivolous litigation?

Read the ruling. It wasn't frivolous. It was needed to remind the Tories of their obligations under the treaty

My indigenous VISA just got Declined......
Due to insufficient funds and BS collateral
Okay National .now what about the next Hurdle the Tax payers are watching YOU!!!!

Great news to someone who initially opposed these partial sell downs. Democracy prevails. My postion changed when Maori intitiated their extreme position of an ownership interest in moving water. Maori have overplayed their hand and have in my opinion seriously damaged goodwill to their interests.

There is no water in the Hawke's Bay for anybody to claim that they own it, so when the next rains do come who is going to own that freshly delivered water?....incredible!

The framers and irrigators of course.

Lets hope this is a turning point in race relations, where a line in the sand has been marked, and the Supreme Court wont tollerate anylonger two sets of race based laws.

Annonymous 1 hr ago,
I won't be holding my breath waiting, not with the present composition of the Supreme Court.
Public opinion determined this result, not the Judges!

Following that logic we can all look forward to lynch mob justice.

All good, but how much taxpayer money has all this cr*p cost and the lawyers get fatter.

Yes, great result, but as long as we have race based politics the Maori gravy train will just keep chugging on. Maori will just change their tack and we will continue to support their racist unfounded claims. Remember, politicians care about votes, they will never take a stand, too many votes are at risk for a sensible approach.

If only they would wake up and realise that the bulk of voters support the demolition of the Maori gravy train, and they could make a stand and be done with it once and for all, with most of our blessings. There are many Maori who are against the Maori gravy train and would support this type of government.

They are still driveling on about the metaphysical "principles of the treaty" that they invented and bestowed on the mythical people who no longer exist except in the fantasy worlds of politics and the law.

Tell that to the Maoris. Go on I dare you.

I'm telling you. You tell me your full genetic inheritance.

Courageous. You missed a grand opportunity to espouse your views in Rotorua last week.

Are you implying that thuggery beats logic? You have a grand opportunity to display your counter arguments, if any, but so far have ducked it.

If you ask me Maori made a big mistake taking it thru the courts because a decision like this makes their case for special rights to shares way weaker!

Yes, there was always a risk they had a rotten case. I wonder whether their legal advice was defective, too?

Another punch in the face for the working class and lower socio-economic middle to under-class.

The assets they built with pride and honesty will now, from free market greed and dishonesty, show them how naive they really are!

Let their pay packets be confiscated by price fixing, racketeering, fancy accounting, embezzlement and false marketing . The clever, privileged (lucky), greedy manipulating crooks in the world will treat them like ...well nothing... just productive units.
Must love this modern world where you can screw the screwed. In the old days the screwed would die from “natural selection" and you couldn't sucker punch them.

But little old New Zealand with their beautiful country but ugly insecure character population will resort back to their provincial school yard bullying tactics to "feel they are better than what they actually are" and beat up and use the perceived weak because, simply “ that’s the way it is “.

So what exactly is your point?

You've slathered a lot but haven't made much sense. Are you a Labour staffer by chance?

On behalf of genius and crooks if you can't see the point, there's no point trying to explain it. You are obviously a can short of a six pack.

Absolutely right ... and forget the comment about being a Labour staffer by a member of the tribe of nasty one-dimensional greedies you mention, anyone with an ounce of historical knowledge knows the Labour Party are to their necks in this too... they let the predatory rip-off of residential consumers continue for almost a decade, so forget them. Just heard Cosgrove defending the stealth tax rip-off dividends. Here's the real truth, centrally generated and delivered power for residential is a downward business, technology is seeing to that and wholesale prices are depressed and will be for the foreseeable future. Just shows you how stupid is the sell brigade. Winston says part of a coalition deal with him is to buy them back - better start thinking about that and what it might do to the share price.

Bizarre logic. If you own a downward business why on earth wouldn't you sell it? And why on earth vote for an idiot that wants to buy it?

Alan 'Fox News' Wilkinson strikes again... you Key loving fanboys are so dumb, this system works when it's a service to deliver the lowest possible price, what don't you understand 'economic enablement' and stop calling people idiots unless you want to be known by that name yourself.

I have never listened to or viewed Fox News. As for the rest of your nonsense, I think you've just earned your label and proved that you've never invested in a business.


Truth on power... Geoff Bertram explains:

My prayers have been answered. Now our savings from good honest hard work-not hand-outs Hone- can be used to buy shares in MRP. A Referendum of 400,000 signatures are just a political stunt funded by the Greens hell bent on Democratic process.
And as a future share holder, I expect no change to the current price gouging to insure my high return at the expense of customers/kiwis.

Bring on solar power roof tops and back yard wind turbines. Lets all get off the grid and *@%$ the power companies whoever owns them.

OK Taxpayers, let's start recovering our costs for this "Walt Disney" type pantomime. Which iwi do we start with?
To the iwis, what is the next cab off the rank?

I heard the court did not award costs against the Iwi I wonder why not, there was no apparent reason after all Iwi aren't short of a $m or 10

No costs encourages more of this greedy wasteful Maori behaviour. Lets hope they suffered large legal fees at least.

These bunch of shiftless parasites will need to find another grievance to tout.

Wouldn't be hard to find one, indolent. Or several.

Shiftless parasites? Good grief. That would be right wing ruling elite you're referring to, I take it.

I might not be able to buy a lot but it's time to really own some NZ assets.

Is there one person who can explain what the 'priciples of the Treay' are?? To me it smacks of vagueness and lack of definition. This of course allows any person / tribe to put their interpretation on anything they like and quote the "priciples of the Treaty". Isn't this exactly what we are seeing now?
Thank goodness none of these politicians are in business...clarity and conciseness are not their strengths.

It's great Maori interests have been put back into perspective. But this side show has distracted all from the issue of whether the assets should be sold. I voted National but don't agree with asset sales - at least not the power companies. The video post earlier lays it out very well:

I voted National, too, but in my wildest dreams I never ever invisaged that they would sell off half of the power companies that we the taxpayers of NZ have already paid for and own, surely common sense tells you that the massive dividends they are receiving from massive power price increases far outweighs in time any short-term gain from any sale ... surely, or do I have rocks between my ears?

It's considered bad form to sell something you don't own. That's why we are selling something we already paid for - and continue to pay for by way of extravagant power prices. If the Government doesn't own it and reap the profits it will have better incentives to regulate the sector properly for proper competition and lower consumer prices.

The selling price will reflect the expected profit stream. That's how markets work. If you think the price is too low, then buy the shares and make your fortune.

To those feel the need to "own some NZ assets":

1: you already do (assuming you're a NZer) and will continue to benefit from that ownership for ever, both from the revenue those assets generate and the services they provide, unless the gummint knocks 'em off.

2: you're already perfectly entitled to own as much of the NZ stock market as you can afford, including formerly state-owned electricity companies.

But why would you? All NZ governments for decades have done everything they can to ensure biased advantages flow to the property market.

Right people. Back to your cages. Times up.