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Ngāi Tahu Takes Court Action To Protect South Island Lakes And Rivers

Ngāi Tahu has lodged a statement of claim in the High Court at Christchurch seeking recognition of its rangatiratanga over the freshwater in the Ngāi Tahu takiwā (area). Its statement of claim is to address the ongoing degradation of awa (rivers) and moana (lakes) caused by environmental mismanagement.

Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says: “For generations we were excluded from our place as kaitiaki, guided by centuries of wisdom and knowledge handed down by our tupuna, in protecting the health and quality of the wai (water). For too long, governments have talked about addressing these issues but have made piecemeal progress. That is not enough. Now is the time to act.”

Ngāi Tūāhuriri Upoko Dr Te Maire Tau says: “Successive governments have mismanaged freshwater. The results are evident in the condition of rivers, lakes and streams throughout Canterbury, Otago and Southland.”

Ngāi Tahu seeks to compel the Crown to address these issues in partnership with the iwi.

Rangatiratanga over water means Ngāi Tahu has rights, responsibilities and obligations relating to the freshwater in its takiwā, including doing what it can to stop the degradation of waterways and the environment.

“This is also a matter of tribal survival – our Ngāi Tahu practice of mahinga kai is dependent on healthy waterways. The current law is first in, first served, leading to severe over-allocation. It comes from a perspective of water as a resource to be extracted, often well beyond users’ needs. It does not put the science, or the health of the waterways first and on which our own health depends,” Dr Tau says.

“We have tried to engage with the Crown on these issues without success. We agree with the Waitangi Tribunal in its freshwater inquiry stage 2 report last year that progress on the recognition of our rights, responsibilities and obligations to freshwater in our takiwā now requires a test case in the courts,” says Ms Tumahai.

The case is brought by 15 traditional Ngāi Tahu leaders from across the takiwā, and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu represented by Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai.

“Ngāi Tahu views this action as a matter of public good. We want to work together with all South Islanders to find solutions. The pollution affects us all. We have a generation of New Zealanders who have not been able to swim in our rivers,” Ms Tumahai says.

Ka ānga atu a Ngāi Tahu ki te kōti kia tiakina ngā awa me ngā moana o Te Waipounamu.

Kua whakatakoto a Ngāi Tahu i ā mātou Take Kerēme ki te Kōti Matua i Ōtautahi kia whakanuia tō mātou rangatiratanga i te wai māori i te takiwā o Ngāi Tahu. Ka tūtohu tēnei kerēme i te whakahāweatanga o ngā awa, o ngā moana nā te haukeke i te taiao.

“I rāwahotia mātou ngā rangatira, me tō mātou mātauranga tuku iho ki te tiaki i te wai māori. Kua roa nei te Kāwanatanga e pahu kōrero ana mō te whakatika i ēnei take, engari anō mō ngā whāinga. Me whakatika ināianei” te kōrero a te Kaiwhakahaere a Lisa Tumahai.

“Kua hēhē haere ia Kāwanatanga ki te whakahaere i te wai māori,” te kī a Tākuta Te Maire Tau, Upoko o Ngāi Tūāhuriri. “Mārakerake ana te kitea atu ngā awa, ngā moana, ngā pūkaki puta noa i Waitaha, i Ōtākou tae noa ki Murihiku i te huakore”.

Hei tā Ngāi Tahu, me uruhi te Karauna ki te noho rangapū me te iwi kia whakatikahia ēnei take.

Ko te tikanga pū o te rangatiratanga o te wai māori; he mana atawhai, he mana whakahaere tō Ngāi Tahu i te wai māori i tōna takiwā, kia whakapōturi hoki te whakahāweatanga o te wai me te taiao.

“He take oranga tonutanga mō te iwi hoki – me tika te wai kia ora ai te tikanga o te mahinga kai. E ai kī ngā ture o nāianei mā te tuatahi e riro ai te nui o ngā rawa, me te aha, ka tipu haere te whakarato i te wai. He tikanga tango rawa tua atu i te matea o te tangata. Ehara ko te pūtaiao, te matea o te tangata me te waiora o te wai te kaupapa matua”. “Kia maumahara hoki, i tau tuatahi mātou ki tēnei whenua.” te kī a Tākuta Tau.

“Kua tonoa kē atu mātou ki te Karauna i ēnei take me te huakore. E whakaae ana mātou ki te rīpoata nō tērā tau o te Taraipiunara o Waitangi mō ngā take wai māori, e hāpai ana i ā mātou kerēme ki te wai māori i tō mātou takiwā. Ināianei me whakamātau tēnei kēhi i te kōti.” te kī a Tumahai.

Kua whakatakotohia tēnei kerēme e ngā Rāngatira tēkau mā rimā o Ngāi Tahu me Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. Ko Lisa Tumahai, te Kaiwhakahaere o Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu te reo Māngai mō Te Rūnanga.

“Hei tā Ngāi Tahu, hei painga mō te katoa tēnei kaupapa. Ko te hiahia kia mahi ngātahi mātou katoa o Te Waipounamu ki te whai rongoā. Ka pāngia te parakino ki a tātou katoa. Kua puta tētahi whakatipuranga tē taea te kau ki roto i ō mātou awa” te kī a Tumahai.

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