Labour cannot be trusted to defend and protect Māori rights – again

The Māori Party condemns Labour’s arrogant proposal to tax commercial water use and says the issue of who owns the country’s water needs to be addressed before there is any talk of imposing a tax on the resource.

“Labour has put the cart before the horse by talking about charging a royalty for commercial water use. It’s simply wrong to charge for something you don’t own and Labour’s unilateral decision to deny hapū, iwi and Māori of their rights and interests to water should be a stark reminder to our people that history will repeat itself under a Labour-led government,” says Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

“To add insult to injury, Labour also proposes that some of the royalty would be passed on to Māori, without even so much as a discussion with hapū and iwi first, despite decades of relentless advocacy from our people to have their rights and interests recognised,” he says.

“Who owns the water? Labour says everybody, National says nobody, but the Waitangi Tribunal says Māori. It determined in 2012 that Māori had rights equivalent to ownership under the Treaty of Waitangi and that those rights were to be protected by the Treaty,” says Mr Flavell.

“What we say is that any discussion around water issues be it rights, interests, management, ownership, pricing or quality must involve hapū and iwi,” says Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox.

“To deny Māori rights and interests to something that the Tribunal accepted was a taonga would risk a repeat performance of the foreshore and seabed saga and we all know how that ended.

“The Māori Party will advance and protect those rights – as we have done so before,” Ms Fox says.

“You can’t go about unilaterally deciding who owns what. We want a Royal Commission of Inquiry into water set up so the rights and interests of Māori can be properly considered alongside other water-related issues,” Mr Flavell says.

“This is a pressing issue that needs to be examined outside the glare of election campaigns which threatens to make a sideshow of a critical national issue.”

Authorised by Susan Cullen, 5 Gala Street, Waihōpai