Māori Party co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox are calling on Labour to come clean on who owns the country’s freshwater before they try taxing it.
“Labour have claimed everybody owns the water, while the Waitangi Tribunal says Māori have rights akin to ownership,” says Mr Flavell.
“Labour have also said there is ongoing work on recognising the rights of iwi in relation to water and they are committed to respecting those rights. If that is the case, then those rights and interests need to be determined before anyone starts taxing water.
“Until a discussion is held around water rights and interests any potential tax should be off the table - you can’t start charging for something you don’t own.
“Any discussion around water rights, interests, management, quota, ownership, pricing or quality must involve hapū and iwi and the same goes with any potential land tax.”
“Labour have said they will not bring in any new taxes or levies in its first term of government beyond those already announced. They’ve changed their minds on some other taxes so they should now commit to where they stand on the water tax – or has that position changed too?” says Ms Fox.
“People deserve to know what they’re voting for and Māori need to know about Labour’s plans for a water and a land tax. A land tax could hit Māori landowners hard, but until we are told the details we won’t know.
“It’s all well and good saying trust us, but Māori have trust issues when it comes to Labour. Māori deserve to be represented by Māori MPs who will stick up for their rights and interests and not kowtow to their party’s position.”
“We’re not against looking at the issues around water, but what we are opposed to is riding roughshod over the interests of Māori,” says Mr Flavell.
“Labour has promised to hold a roundtable discussion in its first 100 days to set the price for water, but how can that be done when issues around rights and interests remain unresolved?” says Ms Fox.