When you have the legal power to control aspects of how something is used, those are property rights, and when you have the legal power to exclude use of something by someone -for instance, by allocating exclusive usage rights to someone else – that’s ownership. The Crown allocates water rights, ipso facto, the Crown believes it owns the water.
If someone, the Crown, has the power to allocate the right to use water then that person, the Crown, must be asserting that it gets to decide what happens with the water – who uses it and how and who doesn’t – ie, that it owns it.
Iwi disagree. And that’s simply an evidential matter. It’s not a matter of whether the water can be owned or not, because clearly it can.
To say you can’t own water but you can own land is soft-headed mysticism. Just because something’s a liquid or a gas doesn’t mean it can’t be owned but the land can be because it’s solid. Otherwise, I must be free to drink at will from all those bottles of water in the dairy.