Land and Water Forum report practical and responsible
Media release from Te Wai Maori Trust
Land and Water Forum report a practical and responsible solution to fresh water management
New Zealand’s future as a leading primary sector producer as well as our nation’s 100% Pure New Zealand brand depends on our ability to sustainably manage the valuable fresh water resource. The third report of the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), released today, provides a responsible yet practical way forward to freshwater management, the Te Wai Maori Trust says.
Te Wai Maori Chairman Ken Mair today called on the Government to implement the recommendations, which found that iwi rights and interests must be resolved for any freshwater management regime to be stable and durable in the future.
“There are a range of competing uses for fresh water throughout the country – from dairying to crop farming, urban demands to tourism uses. But the Government will not be able to resolve them in a durable manner until it engages with iwi over Maori rights and interests in fresh water,” Mr Mair said.
The LAWF reports were developed over a number of years and included participation by New Zealand’s primary industries, power companies, scientific organisations, NGOs as well as iwi organisations. It states that the transition to a new system of water allocation should proceed hand-in-hand with iwi-Crown discussions on Maori rights and interests.
Mr Mair said the forum identified weaknesses in the current water management regime as Maori had. “If we had a sound management system then maybe many of these complications and legal actions could dissolve. Te Wai Maori supports the call for engagement on the issue of fresh water and will be writing to Ministers about how this can be achieved,” he said.
“It’s important that a process for discussion is agreed soon. This discussion can build on conversations that have already been held with various iwi, the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group and through the Government’s recent consultation over ‘Shares Plus’ in relation to the sale of State-owned power generators.”
“The need to resolve Maori rights and interests in fresh water is extremely important for New Zealand to be able to move forward, and for various industries to plan their businesses with certainty,” Mr Mair said.
“We don’t want our country to become 35% Pure New Zealand,” Mr Mair said.
Te Wai Maori Trust was established in 2004 through the Maori Fisheries Act to advance Maori interests in freshwater fisheries, including in relation to customary commercial and customary non-commercial freshwater fisheries. The Trust also has a statutory role in promoting the protection and enhancement of freshwater fisheries habitats (lakes, rivers, and other water bodies), particularly those that have traditionally supported iwi and whose shores have been the location of their marae.