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Maori Party misses the mark

13 September 2006

Maori Party misses the mark

Hone Harawira and the Maori Party have shown that they are either completely stumped by the Te Arawa Lakes settlement process or are actively seeking to cause alarm through scaremongering, Treaty Negotiations Minister Mark Burton said today.

"Here are the facts: Fact 1: As part of the settlement the Crown is retaining the ownership of the space occupied by water and air above the beds of the lakes that are being transferred Te Arawa.

"Fact 2: Currently the Crown owns the beds of the lakes and the space above them by virtue of the 1922 agreement reached between Te Arawa and the Crown that was enshrined in legislation.

"Fact 3: Under common law nobody owns water in its natural state and this does not change under the Te Arawa Lakes settlement.

"Fact 4: The term 'Crown Stratum' is used in the settlement to describe the space occupied by water and air. There is no conspiracy Mr Harawira, ownership of that space has always existed at law, use of the term 'Crown Stratum' does not change this fact.

"The Maori party has alleged that the Crown is assuming an ownership right in the absence of any law that shows that Maori ownership has been extinguished.
This is patently untrue – the 1922 agreement explicitly confirmed Crown ownership of the Lakes," Mark Burton said.

"The Maori party has also alleged that the Crown is assuming a right to regulate the use of water. The Crown already has this under the Resource Management Act, a right which does not equate to ownership of water and which remains unchanged by the Te Arawa Lakes settlement.

"The joint ownership interests of Te Arawa and the Crown in the Te Arawa Lakes are a powerful expression of the partnership that sits at the heart of the Treaty relationship. I would urge all members of Parliament to support the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Bill when it has its third reading."

ENDS

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