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Folly of Maori spiritual argument highlighted

25 May 2004

Decision highlights folly of Maori spiritual arguments in RMA

New Zealanders will pay more for their electricity and have less security of supply as a result of Maori spiritual arguments over the Resource Management Act, says National's Environment spokesman Nick Smith.

He is commenting on yesterday's Environment Court decision that will allow power generator Genesis to use water from the Whanganui River for only a further 10 years.

"It is political correctness gone mad when key decisions on infrastructure are made on the basis that diverting the Whanganui River for hydro development will adversely affect Maori spiritual beliefs and self-esteem," Dr Smith says.

"Maori families struggle to pay their power bills like everyone else, and keeping their children warm at a reasonable cost is far more important than any spiritual attachment to water hundreds of kilometres away.

"This decision is also concerning in that it invites Maori and Genesis to have 'a meeting of the minds' over the next 10 years to resolve the future use of the water. This is an invitation for backhanders, given the huge value of electricity and the leverage that Whanganui iwi will have over Genesis.

"It highlights the urgent need to reform the Resource Management Act. We have seen roads diverted for the taniwha and now electricity generation is being compromised because of Maori spirits.

"This will send a further shiver down the spine of the electricity industry, which cannot invest with any certainty with this length of consent," Dr Smith says.

ENDS

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