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Minister Must Assure Public Water Owned By All

Sunday 27th Jun 1999
Ken Shirley
Media Release -- Governance & Constitution

Minister Must Assure Public Water Owned By All

ACT Deputy Leader Hon Ken Shirley today voiced concern over the Waitangi Tribunal's recommendation that the Atihaunui iwi should be legally recognised as the owners of the Whanganui River.

"The Tribunal's decision yesterday that the Whanganui River can be 'owned' is the latest in a series of worrying rulings by the Tribunal. The Tribunal is off the rails and has set a very worrying precedent granting ownership of a river to the Atihaunui iwi.

"It is urgent that the Government shows some leadership on the Treaty Settlement process to allay the concerns of New Zealanders that everything, including air, water and sunlight together with the ownership of all native plants and animals in New Zealand are now up for grabs.

"The Tribunal's latest decision adds more weight to ACT's call for a time limit to be set in place for the fair, full and final settlement of all Treaty claims.

"The Minister of Treaty Negotiations must clearly re-state that all natural water, whether it be in a river, lake or coastal zone is vested in the Crown on behalf of all people of New Zealand.

"The Minister must reject the Waitangi Tribunal's recommendation that the Atihaunui people's ownership of the Whanganui river should be legally recognised.

"If the Minister accepts the recommendation that all Resource Management Act applications in respect of the river require the approval of the Maori Trust Board, then he is opening up Pandora's box for all Maori tribes in respect of every river, lake and the foreshore throughout the country.

"Every water right for farming, urban or industrial use would become a source of litigation and dispute with the self perpetuating grievance industry taking on a whole new dimension," said Ken Shirley.


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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