Maori Council to challenge MRP sale through the courts

The government "is acting illegally in proceeding to sell the shares" before establishing what prior rights Maori have.

BUSINESSDESK: The Maori Council will today file papers in the High Court seeking a judicial review of the government's plan to sell down Mighty River Power.

Council solicitor Donna Hall told Radio New Zealand the case is that the government "is acting illegally in proceeding to sell the shares" before establishing what prior rights Maori have.

"There's now a final decision to proceed with litigation," she says.

The council has been consulting Maori groups this week since the government's announcement on Monday that it would proceed with the sale and would scratch Mighty River Power from the list of companies covered by the State owned Enterprises Act.

The Maori Council spent Thursday visiting claimants along the Waikato River to seek feedback on what its next move should be, and also secured some funding for the challenge, Radio NZ reported.

"The council has sufficient funding to commence the legal challenge," Ms Hall says.

The council is expecting a tough fight through the courts with the government after Prime Minister John Key ended talks with Maori over how the Mighty River Power sale could help address claims to rights in freshwater resources.

Finance Minister Bill English has made clear the timing of the Crown announcement is intended to flush out likely Maori Council and any other legal action.

A Cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday next week will agree to remove MRP from the State-Owned Enterprises Act in preparation for sale, an action requiring an Order-in-Council signed by the governor-general, also scheduled for next Tuesday afternoon.

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