Iwi leaders spurn Parker's freshwater initiative
By Gavin Evans
Aug. 15 (BusinessDesk) - Iwi leaders have rejected the government’s plans for a new Māori working group on fresh water management.
The Pou Taiao Iwi Leaders Group says it will not be participating in the Kāhui Wai Māori process outlined by Environment Minister David Parker earlier this month. The government said it wanted to hear from a wider range of Māori voices and work with them to start setting priorities – particularly for at-risk catchments.
But Herewini Parata, chair of the Pou Taiao Iwi Leaders Group, said it won’t be nominating members to the new working group.
“Minister Parker announced the Kāhui Wai Māori proposal at the National Iwi Chairs Forum hui in Hopuhopu earlier this month. There was no prior engagement on this initiative and its terms and membership are to be determined by the Crown. That does not reflect a relationship of partnership under Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” he said in a statement.
“The Iwi Chairs Forum was clear in its deep disappointment about this approach”, Parata said. “As a result, the National Iwi Chairs Forum and the Pou Taiao Iwi Leaders Group will not be nominating members to this roopu.”
The Pou Taiao Iwi Leaders Group – which focuses on environmental issues – said it would continue to progress its own work in relation to fresh water.
That would include working on regionally focused catchment-based systems for fresh water, including developing a set of tools to assist iwi and hapū to develop solutions for their unique hydrological situations. It would also advance issues relating to water quality and clean drinking water for Māori communities.
The group said it was also clear that Te Mana o te Wai must be upheld and iwi and hapū rights and interests must be recognised as fundamental elements of any new policy development relating to fresh water.
Parker has previously said Māori claims to freshwater would need to be settled at the same time as introducing nutrient limits in some catchments. He recognised iwi, as owners of large tracts of undeveloped land, stand to be affected by any proposed changes.