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Judicial review of water ownership rejected

Written By: - Date published: 9:53 pm, December 11th, 2012 - 17 comments
Categories: Maori Issues, national, Privatisation, water - Tags: ,

A win for the Nats, a loss for the country. As reported on 3 News:

Maori Council loses water rights bid

The Government can forge ahead with its asset sales agenda after the Maori Council’s bid for a judicial review into water ownership was rejected.

The council and two other claimants argued the Government acted unlawfully by moving ahead with a share offer in Mighty River Power without first resolving Maori water rights.

But Justice Ronald Young says there are no grounds for a review and the Government’s consultation with Maori was adequate. He says the Crown is not obliged to wait until the Waitangi Tribunal process was finished before asset sales could precede [sic].

The Maori Council will appeal, but TV1 is describing it as a “pretty crushing victory for the Crown”.

Update: Small and Watkins cover the reasoning behind the decision, and you can download the Judge’s ruling (88 page pdf).


17 comments on “Judicial review of water ownership rejected”

  1. the pigman 1

    Unfortunately the MSM’s level of reporting on the specifics of the judicial review/the grounds on which it has advanced is very poor. From what I could tell from the snippet of Young J’s decision, the Maori Council advanced their case (at least to some extent) on the basis that they had a legitimate expectation of the government considering Maori water rights claims before taking a decision to sell the assets.

    I would be interested in any information available publicly online. Have the written submissions of the Maori Council been published somewhere?

  2. xtasy 2

    The problem for Maori in NZ has been and still is: This total reliance on “The Crown”, and any rights coming from an agreement with the Crown through the Treaty of Waitangi. It is a too vague document, and hence it gets disputed again and again.

    In my view it is a typical “colonial con job document”, designed to mislead, irritate, create ambiguities and ultimately serve the “smarter” party, being the coloniser, or the former coloniser, as it is now the situation.

    All legal decisions are now based on issues in relation with “the Crown”.

    There are still those arguing that the TOW is not a valid document, and that the United Tribes had other agreements before that, which should never have been dis invalidated.

    NZ has been “colonised” in the meantime, so all this is just a pretended process now, as the power arrangements were determined over a century ago.

    Maori have been, still are and will remain to be factually “disowned”, as the whole set of settlements under the TOW are also a farce, to serve the elite of the existing regime, same as an elite within Maoridom, to pretend this is all a fair solution to all, and it will be sorting things out forever.

    My view is, this is all a continuation of the endless lies from the early days of colonialisation of NZ, that did in effect take place. The goal is to ultimately “assimilate” and “absorb” Maori people, and thus do away with their existence, so that the anglo saxon dominant commercial regime can take and maintain full control, disregarding any racial or cultural heritages any existing native or prospective migrant residents and citizens to NZ would ever have.

    The ultimate goal is commercial interests to dominate all areas of importance of NZ society, to keep the populace into servitude, to deliver the work service at a cheap price, to enable an elite to sell goods and services to overseas economies to make a great profit and living for themselves. Nothing else is happening, has happened for a long time, and none else is planned for the future.

    All this hype about a few power companies, dams and water rights are really just a side show issue of what has long time ago been decided. Reading the case and judicial decision, it is so obvious, what it is all based on. It has a total disregard to the true meaning of the TOW, the true meaning of the rights to water, land or whatsoever of Maori, is is anything but surprising.

    I have as of recent been presented other “decisions” under law, by certain decision makers in other areas. They are full of hypocrisy, flaws, outright contradictions and lies, that is what this country’s law and system is based on. NZ is a country that has NO true legal system of substance of its own, it is merely a mirror of English law, reflected largely in colonial and post colonial law, applied here.

    The only solution is to abolish the Crown, the English Law, and to create a republic and a new system of basic and other laws, as is common in so many other countries, to create a completely new, independent, more fair and sensible judicial, executive and legislative system, also designed to be more representative, more balanced and more inclusive.

    NZ at present is a total JOKE, when it comes to all this. It is a sophistically designed system, only serving an elite few!

  3. Repeated from open mike.

    One interesting clanger by the Prime Minister has emerged in the judgment.  He filed an affidavit in the case that said the following:

    “Ministers were clear throughout the process that particular Māori iwi/hapū have rights and interests in specific water and geothermal resources in rohe. If the applicants are seeking to suggest otherwise that is simply wrong”.

    I have tried to but no matter how hard I try I cannot reconcile this statement by Key with his comment that “no one owns water”.

    So is this evidence of him telling a porkie or just being deliberately disingenuous.

    • Populuxe1 3.1

      “Rights and interests” do not mean the same thing as “ownership” – Medieval history is full of examples of communities having rights to graze, gather wood, and so forth on land they didn’t directly own. The commons is another example – no one owned the commons because everyone had the right to use it.

    • Un petit roitelet 3.2

      “Rights and interests” differ from “ownership”.

      I interpret his comment that no-one owns water to mean that no-one owns all water, but they they can establish a right to the use of a measured quantity of it from a particular source.

  4. Tracey 4

    I was just listening to J Key speaking on Firstline. he referred to Justice Robert Fisher who has been asked to peer review Binnie’s report as “Rob Fisher”. May be nothing but may indicate a more than passing familiarity with him or he has him confused with Rob Fisher of Rugby connections?

  5. Tracey 5

    It seems to me that some folks have misunderstood the purpose of the hearing. It was to determine if the “process” was correct, not whether it is right or wrong for the govt to forge ahead as it is. IF the court held that the process undertaken by the Govt was correct, my understanding is that is primarily the beginning and end.

  6. bad12 6

    The High Court as far as Maori rights and interests in water resources is just the first step in a long journey,

    This time next year i fully expect to be awaiting a decision on the issue from the Justices of the Supreme Court,

    Should the Slippery lead National Government lose in either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court on the issue i also expect them to legislate over the top of such a Court decision…

  7. Peter 7

    I read this more as a pragmatic decision by the judge, letting the highest court in the land make the decision to strike down asset sales, rather than leaving his judgement to be then subject to much more scrutiny by higher courts.

    • Veutoviper 7.1

      That was my instant reaction also, Peter. Whichever way Justice Fisher went, it was almost certainly bound to go to appeal to a higher court. (I have not yet read the decision – so that was an instinctive reaction rather than one based on the actual judgement.)

      • Tracey 7.1.1

        Justice Fisher??? The same Justice Fisher who is now peer reviewing the Bain independent report???

        Curiouser and curiouser.

        I guess it couldnt be Winkelman cos she definitely hasnt assisted this government in 2012.

        postscript: I have just read the decision and note it is Justice Young not Fisher as stated above.

  8. karol 9

    Mana says it’s a set back, but there’s possible further court appeals, plus the asset sales petition is near to achieving the required numbers of signature.

  9. Tracey 10

    I guess JKey must have read this one… as opposed to the J Banks decision by the police. This is what opposition need to be doing, making snappy soundbits… when asked to comment ont he decision Party leader said, we are pleased to see the PM has decided after 4 years he needs to read reports and decisions, unlike in the John banks case.

  10. OneTrackViper 11

    A win for the country. The alternative would be worse. But, never mind, there is still an appeal or two to go. Instead of spending the money (legal aid?) on “poverty” we can give it to rich lawyers.

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