Friday, February 7, 2020

Clive Bibby: Negotiations over water rights at Waitangi

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall of the participant's changing rooms as they each prepare for the next round of talks at Waitangi between the Crown and Iwi leadership regarding this hardy annual issue of rights to the nation's fresh water resources. 

Back here in the provinces we are watching with baited breath for any announcement of a breakthrough but are, as always, reliant on the news media for reports of progress. 

Unfortunately that usually means we will be subjected to the individual commentator's spin on the issue that will inevitably reflect their version of who holds the moral high ground during these discussions. 

That doesn't mean however, that the media's presentations will be an accurate representation of the truth. Due to the pre determined position of the various news gatherers on such an important issue, we shouldn't be surprised if it isn't!

Since the lead story on last Sunday's 6pm TVOne's network news featuring commentary of the build up to the planned Waitangi hui on fresh water rights and the subsequent reports of how those negotiations are going, we appear to be none the wiser as to whether this Government is showing signs of capitulation to Iwi demands (blackmail) any quicker than its predecessors. 

My guess is that, given it would be political suicide to do so, we the public and the Iwi representatives who have had the opportunity of enjoying another fruitless round of "argie bargie" at taxpayers expense, will be expected to swallow the hollow commitments from Government to seriously consider lwi concerns around the cabinet table where the atmosphere is more conducive to but less indicative of their duplicity. 

In days to come, we will probably be able to hear the deep "thud" as the document containing the points of agreement (MOU) hits the bottom of the wastepaper basket under the cabinet table especially if it has Winston's fingerprints still warm on the binding. 

As a member of a provincial community that understands what really is at stake here, l can assure the rest of the country of a few absolutes about this issue that are the result of the evolutionary process of negotiations involving different interpretations of obligations under the Treaty and the implications of getting the outcome wrong.

We should be under no illusions as to the real basis for Iwi's position regarding the debate over fresh water rights. 

After years of talking around the issue with successive governments, frustrated that things are not moving any closer to resolution, the tribes have decided to take a more direct approach by telling this administration and anybody else who shares an interest, that their clear objective is ownership in some form of the fresh water reserves of this country. 

If you are confused as to the validity of the argument that supposedly justifies their stance, then understand that it has its gestation in a growing belief amongst Iwi across the nation that their forebears' signatures on the 1840 treaty document entitle them to ownership of at least a 50% share of this lifeblood resource and that they will continue with this line of advocacy until the Government agrees to hand over the keys that will unlock access to this priceless commodity - along with the right to sell surplus fresh water to any other Kiwi who might require it for survival. You can't make this up! 

While we shouldn't be surprised if the reaction to the current talks results in ba continuation of the stalemate, we need to prepare for some sections of the Maori community taking the law into their own hands, bypassing the courts in a bid to force their expression of exasperation in other more radical ways. 

We have seen evidence that for some, the time for talking is over in the recent fiasco that is Ihumataeo. 

You have been warned. Watch this space.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.


Ray S said...
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One can assume that ownership of water does not include flood waters or waters that have no benefit or financial gain. It will be argued that ownership provides a path to better use of water and protection of catchments etc. There maybe a miniscule level of truth to that but the prime reason for ownership is money. Everything we do depends on water to a greater or lesser extent. Hydro power generation is a case in point, water owners could clip the ticket of everybody who uses electricity, everybody who uses water for irrigation to grow food.

For Maori to say otherwise is a falsehood of gigantic proportions.

Empathic said...
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Of course Maori own the air too so in due course we can expect to be paying a royalty for every breath we take.

Anonymous said...
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Totally correct Clive. Nania Mahuta wants water rights to be held in a partnership with the Crown. She also wants a veto right to ensure that all decisions over water are aligned with iwi views of the Treaty. Read about the Three Waters Proposal and understand that any existing or future water user will pay a royalty to the Commission. Who is granted user right is also to be controlled by the iwi veto. All the information is easily avcessed on line. Well worth reading! Especially in that the waters also include the Coastal waters under the RMA jurisdiction. The implications are huge.

Allan said...
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Why do we accept that Maori OWNED anything. Truth is, being a tribal people, they occupied the land, drank from the streams etc, until the next marauding tribe either annihilated or drove them on. Not until the Europeans arrived, was anything exchanged for the land or its assets. But now that these cunning tribal people have learned the ways of the Pakeha, which includes never challenge claims, for fear of being branded racist, the demands become more exorbitant as time goes by. Far better to abide by The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People Treaty, signed by the last National Government, than to abide by The Treaty of Waitangi, that was intended to make us a Nation of one people.

Dave said...
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Successive governments have capitulated to just about all radical Maori increasingly irrational claims, land,foreshore and seabed, forests, national parks rivers etc. The greedy grab for more and more is now at fresh water, what's next the air that we breath?

snitch said...
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Just why did John Key resign so suddenly?!