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Māori Party making progress - Sharples


The Hon Dr Pita Sharples
Maori Party Co-Leader | MP for Tamaki Makaurau

3 September 2012

Māori Party making progress - Sharples

The Māori Party says it is here for the long haul in progressing and advocating for the recognition of customary and proprietary rights of tangata whenua in water bodies.

“We have worked hard over the last week to bring parties together and find a pathway forward. It has not been easy, but we have been making daily progress in our discussions,” said Co-leader Dr Pita Sharples.

“The Māori Party has always opposed the partial sale of SOEs, and we voted against the MOM Bill in Parliament. But just as important is the fight to get recognition and protection for Māori rights to water,” he said.

“We have sought specific commitments from the Government on ways to improve and speed up this process.

“We know that our representations have encouraged the government:
- to engage in negotiations with smaller claimant iwi over their ancestral water bodies;
- to engage with iwi who have interests in natural resources used by Mighty River Power
- to publicly acknowledge the importance of the customary and proprietary rights of Māori in natural water and geothermal resources
- and to give serious consideration to the Waitangi Tribunal’s report on the claim filed by the NZ Māori Council and others
“To progress these negotiations, we have asked the government to commit to:
- developing a national policy framework to support iwi and hapu in their respective negotiations with the Crown over their own natural resources
- convening a representative hui for iwi leaders, the NZ Māori Council and other claimant parties, to clarify common ground on these issues
- agreeing with iwi leaders, NZ Māori Council and other parties on a timetable for ongoing negotiations
- supporting the Land and Water Forum’s recommendation to establish a national Land and Water Commission.
Dr Sharples said the Māori Party is pleased with the support it has had from the Māori Council and many iwi leaders for its approach to these issues.

“The huge majority of Māori leaders insist that we must stay in Government to see these vital issues through,” said Dr Sharples.

“This is a complicated issue, and we are only at the start of what is a longer process of negotiation. We are here for the long haul, and we have a lot of work to do in order to ensure that all tangata whenua, iwi and hapu have their rights in water settled and addressed in an appropriate way.”

“Recognition and protection of the customary and proprietary rights of Māori are vital to the survival of Māori as a distinct culture and identity. They are matters of constitutional significance, and we are not going to play political games over the future of our people and our nation,” he said.

(Copy of letter to Prime Minister attached)

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