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Māori must speak out on partial privatisation

15 February 2012

Māori must speak out on partial privatisation

Māori must speak out on the sale of power-generating companies, say two Victoria University of Wellington lecturers Dr Maria Bargh and Carwyn Jones.

The lecturers say their research on Māori politics and law tells them that putting a stake in the ground now about the partial privatisation of power generating companies is vital for Māori rights, so they have drawn up a template submission for Māori to use in the Government’s consultation process.

The last of a series of hui to consult with Māori regarding the partial privatisation of power generating State Owned Enterprises is today in Wellington at 3.30pm. Submissions on the proposed legislative changes close on 22 February 2012.

“Māori must speak up now or potentially lose the option of the return of resources that have been wrongfully taken,” says Dr Bargh who, with funding from a Marsden Fast Start grant, has examined indigenous corporations in the energy sector in New Zealand and Canada.

“There must not be a partial privatisation of any power-generating state owned enterprise, or the passing of any new legislation for such a purpose, or the removal of a section 9 type clause until a compromise is negotiated with Māori,” says Dr Bargh.

Mr Jones, a lecturer in Victoria’s School of Law, says that the Treaty of Waitangi reaffirms the right of Māori communities to exercise tino rangatiratanga over their freshwater and geothermal resources.

“This includes rights, and corresponding obligations, to protect, preserve, control, regulate, use, and develop those resources,” he says.

“Māori have not willingly sold either their tino rangatiratanga or control over freshwater and geothermal resources.”

The lecturers say that removing section 9 of the State Owned Enterprises Act is prejudicial to Māori.

They argue that it directly removes the legislative requirement for the Crown to act in a manner consistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in respect of the remaining shareholdings and consequently reduces the prospects and the potential enforceability of any relief recommended by the Waitangi Tribunal or other courts in present or future cases.

Copies of the template submission for Māori are on the website of Victoria’s School of Māori Studies http://www.victoria.ac.nz/maori/about/news#a89444

ENDS

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