Supreme Court throws out Maori Council's Mighty River appeal
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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 http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/from/decisions/judgments.html