Written By: - Date published: 8:51 am, July 3rd, 2012 - 15 comments
Categories: energy, Maori Issues, maori party, national, Privatisation - Tags: foreshore and seabed, not yours to sell, privatisation, riverbed
The only remaining possible legal threat to the Nats’ plans to sell off our power companies is a Treaty based claim to water rights or riverbeds:
Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia is calling on iwi to investigate claiming the ownership of riverbeds around the country.
The water from them is critical to the power companies that the Government is putting up for sale, and Ms Turia says Maori should particularly consider claiming ownership of the riverbed along the Waikato and Whanganui Rivers.
Her call follows a ruling the Supreme Court made last week about a stretch of the Waikato River at Pouakani, near Mangakino. The ruling declared Crown ownership of the riverbed was null and void, which means ownership could be open to claims by Whanganui tribes. …
Mighty River Power is the first asset for sale and has eight dams and nine power stations along the Waikato River, three dams of which are within the area of the current claim. Genesis energy is next up, and relies on water from the Whanganui River.
Such uncertainty about the ownership of the riverbeds critical to the first two asset sales could not have possibly come at a more inconvenient time for the Government.
Much as I would like to see a spanner thrown in the privatisation works, and much as I respect iwi’s rights to pursue whatever claims they think are valid, I do have worries about the possibility of such claims progressing. Is the country ready for “Foreshore and Seabed 2: The Riverbeds”?… Out comes the conservative race card, and NZ is plunged into another round of divisive turmoil. What cost the damage? On the other hand, should fear of a backlash prevent iwi from progressing a claim that they think is valid? No simple answers.
My guess is that the Nats are leaning on the Maori Party very hard behind the scenes, and that nothing will ever come of this. But anything could happen, and if a claim is made we are guaranteed “interesting” times ahead…