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Urgent Debates: State Owned Energy Companies – Sales

URGENT DEBATES : State Owned Energy Companies – Sales

Tuesday 11 September 2012; 4.30pm

Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki, Māori Party

Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa e kōrero nei mō tēnei take nui, whakaharahara e pā ana ki tēnei kaupapa o te wai.

On 24 August the Waitangi Tribunal issued its interim report on the national fresh water and geothermal resources claim, noting: “the matters in this claim are of national importance and at the core of the Maori-Crown partnership sealed in 1840.”

We believe that the Government’s announcement last Monday to delay the public offerings of up to 49% of Mighty River Power has actually been quite important and pretty crucial, in the sense of trying to move towards some sort of way of bringing the parties together. This gives us time to address Māori rights and interests in the water, which was the substantive issue, and which was confirmed and guaranteed through the Treaty of Waitangi.

I want to come to the House to specifically address some of the rubbish that came out of the mouth of the first speaker in this debate, Clayton Cosgrove, who was speculating that the Māori Party would be boycotting the national hui on Thursday. For Mr Cosgrove I want to set the record straight. Firstly, where was he when all this discussion was going on? Secondly, the Māori Party has actually been playing an integral role in trying to keep the doors of discussion open, even as I speak—even as I speak. We played a unique role in creating the opportunity for debate around the mixed-ownership model. Contrary to Mr Cosgrove’s rantings, the Māori Party will be at the hui on Thursday, represented by our leader Dr Pita Sharples. This is something that he should know about, and failed to explain, because it has been well reported in the media for over the last week.

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Can I say that our view has always been that issues around water are definitely in the hands of iwi and hapū. There will come a time when we do need to have a national picture. A national framework has been discussed in the past, but that sort of discussion is something that needs to take place for iwi. They should have their own time and their own place to have their kōrero.

The hui on Thursday is a natural follow-on from the hui called on 18 July by whom? It was called by the Māori Party and the Minister of Māori Affairs, with iwi leaders, the Māori Council, and claimants. We brought them together in, I suppose, a unique spirit of collaboration and fighting for what is right. Naturally, the hui, as I say, in conjunction with iwi leaders and the Māori Council, is something that the Waitangi Tribunal in fact recommended should happen. That was a key priority for us—to try to get all the key players into the same room.

It is just as important that all Māori interests have their space in the discussion, away from politicians. That is the hui that is going to take place at Ngāruawāhia towards the end of the week.

I want to point out that a statement came out from the 18 July hui, when we met with the Government and indeed the Prime Minister. The statement read something like this: “The Maori Party and the Government continue to support a process of negotiation between hapu and iwi and the Government on their rights and interests in water, and the Government has undertaken not to legislate over those rights and interests.” That is a crucial statement, because it set the scene for ensuring that we never ever have another foreshore and seabed debacle.

I want to be clear that the Māori Party has been against the sale of the assets from the get-go and we continue to maintain that position. However, we want to make sure that iwi, the claimants, and hapū have an opportunity to have their day and discussion with the Crown. Why? Because they have their interests at heart, and they need to put their issues on the table.

It is really disappointing that Mr Cosgrove chose to go down that line, simply because we should set aside those sorts of politics and really talk about the substantive issues. Water ownership for the benefit of future generations, issues of governance, issues of management, issues of allocation, and issues of proprietary interest are all guided by kaupapa of rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga —things that we talk about all of the time.

This is an opportunity for us to engage in work streams , such as the development of the national framework out of the Waitangi Tribunal; the negotiations with iwi leaders, the Māori Council, and other claimants; and a timetable for ongoing discussions. The recommendation of the Land and Water Forum for a national land and water commission means there is heaps and heaps to do.

So we believe that the Crown needs to demonstrate active commitment to exploring the nature of Māori proprietary rights and interests in water, and the announcement of a commitment to developing a framework would certainly help prepare the groundwork for the second stage of that inquiry. There is a lot to do. We see a commitment to continue direct, localised negotiations as critical in maintaining good faith with hapū. The hui that is coming up at Ngāruawāhia is a good way to go. However, at the first instance, let us allow the people to have their say. Let us take a bit of time about it to get it right. Kia ora tātou.


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