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Maori Council Tries To Revive Water Claim

The New Zealand Maori Council is talking up a possible bid to return to the High Court to get a sympathetic judge to declare that “Maori” indeed own all the water in New Zealand.

Don’t get too alarmed about this. The Maori Council has already gone down this track without success.

Environment Minister David Parker last week declined to be interviewed on the matter but said the Government's priority was improving water quality. Then the Government would look into water allocation issues, but that would not be completed before the election. Read more here.

Remember that the Maori Council has a single strategy which involves getting a sympathetic recommendation from the Waitangi Tribunal, and using that non-binding recommendation as evidence in a High Court bid for a judicial review.

The Maori Council uses any tribunal claim or court action to create a platform upon which claimants may repeat a claim, no matter how far-fetched it is, until the claim becomes embedded in the government and media psyche as a fact.

Be aware that the claim for “Maori” ownership of water is more slippery than a Waikato River eel. Claimants slide between the terms “customary right” and “customary ownership”. They don't say that chiefs who once controlled districts and the water therein ceded their sovereignty in 1840 and are long gone.

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Another inconvenient fact is that when chiefs sold the land, they sold the water, along with rivers, lakes, and streams, trees, minerals, and all appertaining to the land or beneath the surface, according to deeds on file in national archives.

Upgrade for Ihumatao heritage

Heritage New Zealand has caved in to pressure from protesters and upgraded Otuataua Stonefields land at Ihumatao, Auckland, to a category 1 listing.

This reclassification of Ihumatao land looks like a step in a process that would enable the Government to slide out of a tricky situation.

The big question is whether taxpayers, ratepayers, or both, will pay Fletchers $45 million for the lost opportunity on their land at Ihumatao.

Heritage New Zealand chief executive Andrew Coleman said an unprecedented 1500 submissions were made to the review requested by protest group Save Our Unique Landscape. This compares with the 10 to 30 submissions for a normal review.

The listed area has been enlarged to include the Puketapapa-Wallace block owned by Fletcher Building, neighbouring Auckland Council-owned land, and other lands in private ownership, as well as Watercare-administered land going out to the harbour.

Coleman said that when the stone fields were given a category 2 listing in 1991, the then-Historic Places Trust was focused on buildings rather than landscapes, but it now looks at the “wider stories”.

It's now up to Auckland Council to determine what the land can be used for under its District Plan.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern foolishly stepped into the wrangle on the side of the protesters last July when she announced there will be no building until a solution is reached.

That misstep involved the Government in a new historical land claim 11 years after the deadline for such claims had passed and four years after the Kawerau a Maki claim for that area had been settled.

In late January, Fletchers pulled down fences and the Maori king’s flag was taken down amid conflicting claims about whether a deal had been done.

Our petition to evict protesters at Ihumatao, and for the Government to allow both Te Kawerau a Maki and Fletchers to proceed with their lawful business, has collected 2843 signatures. If you have not done so already, please sign our petition at

16,777 oppose coastal racial preferment

Our petition which asks Parliament to amend the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 to restore public ownership of the coastal area, put all claims through the High Court, and repeal customary marine title, while affirming customary rights, has picked up 16,777 signatures. We need your support. The petition may be signed at

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