At least a month before water rights consensus - Maori Party

National's coalition partner sees a drawn-out wrangle.

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell believes it will not be till the end of September that there is any clarity about a possible Maori consensus on water rights.

Mr Flavell, speaking today on TV3’s “The Nation” is the first Maori Party MP to react to the publication late yesterday of the Waitangi Tribunal finding on the Maori Council case for water rights for Maori in connection with the proposed sell off of Government owned power companies.

Mr Flavell said the Iwi Leaders Forum was set to have some discussions in the next couple of weeks or so.

“The Maori Party from our perspective see our role as trying to bring the parties together and will be looking to draw all of the claimants and the Iwi Leaders Group together in the next short space in time,” he said.

“So there's a little bit of work to be done yet.”

But Mr Flavell said he didn’t know whether this would mean that the Government would be able to make any assets this year.

“There’s a little bit of work to be done yet,” he said

However he was pleased with the Tribunal Report.

“Congratulations to the Waitangi Tribunal for having in a short space of time been able to clarify that there are issues with respect to proprietary interest and rights, and customary rights in water,” he said.

Asked about the Prime Minister’s statement last month that no-one owned water, and whether this meant the Government would now have to change that view he said: “I think the Waitangi Tribunal has done the job of clarifying that there are issues of customary interests in water, and the government would probably need to take that seriously, but that’s in their court, and the Waitangi Tribunal has simply set the platform for further discussion on those issues.”

Asked what would happen if the Government ignored the tribunal finding he that wouldn’t probably be anything new, because a number of recommendations from the Waitangi Tribunal have been snubbed by the previous governments across the board.

“So look it's a little bit early on that discussion,” he said.

“I think far better to let the discussion go.

“That’s what we're on about, we want to get some solutions and I think we need to allow the parties to have their debate in their own forums and then come together in time, and that’s what we'll be driving towards as the Maori Party to facilitate that discussion.”

Watch the full interview here.

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