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Finlayson Weighs In On Water

In Audrey Young's article in today's NZH Chris Finlayson has put the cat amongst the pigeons of Labour's newly stated water policy by warning that "Labour's water taxes could force existing full-and-final Treaty of Waitangi settlements to be opened for renegotiation with iwi."

Talk about dancing on the head of a needle - the slants conjured up by the respective spokes-people on the effects of Labour's policy are conjecture at best, and divisive in the extreme at worst. Ranging from King Tuheitia (Tuku Morgan?) - "Maori own the water," to "no-one owns the water," (National's Finlayson) to "everyone owns the Water" (Labour's Parker), to "It is not a free lunch for Maori" (Maori Council's Sir Ed Durie), it is all totally academic.

Of course iwi interests will lie in wait for whatever emerges after the election to stake their claim, and it will no doubt be 'rubber-stamped' by the Waitangi Tribunal. Then we assume protracted negotiations, no matter what the claim. It would be disastrous were to end up in the Supreme Court, and here is the 'head the needle' argument - what exactly is the 'interest' that Finlayson, and others have been touting?

The Tribunal has already declared that interest "includes an interest in the value of what can be made from water" - that is the real 'Pandora's Box," and regardless of Finalyson, or Parker's definition, it will be on this interpretation that the acceptance of whatever decision is finally arrived at will be deemed acceptable to the vast majority of New Zealanders.

Yes, there is need as Finlayson suggests for Labour to tread very warily in this area where their experience is lmited, but the build-up of expectation around charging is such that there is little that National can do at this point to stop some level of momentum in that direction, regardless of Finlayson's rather dramatic warning of Labour "dicing with death."




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Reader Comments (3)

First the bat crazy exaggeration about $18 cabbages then this other sign of panic.... "National knows it can't defeat the Labour-Green policy on water charging on fairness grounds, so they're now appealing to racism and resorting to scaremongering.

Labour’s water policy wouldn't open a Pandora’s Box, for the simple reason that those past settlements cover historic claims. A unilateral government assertion of water ownership would be a fresh injustice, and simply not covered by those settlements.

But Finlayson's dishonesty gets worse, because National has itself recognised that it needs to settle the issue with iwi. Their Cabinet paper on the Land and Water Forum's mock consultation notes that "Cabinet also agreed on June 2 that there is a need to make real progress in the unresolved area of Māori rights and interests in water", which is why the iwi leadership group has been involved in the entire process.

This isn't a "Pandora's box". The model for an easy, full and final settlement to resolve this exists, and iwi are keen. What is lacking is goodwill from the government to sign it. And Finlayson knows all this - so he is actively trying to mislead the New Zealand public about it."

August 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenis Tegg

Denis - I would also be concerned about any "unilateral declaration of Government ownership" - I was not aware that was even on the cards.
My "Pandora's Box" comment was confined precisely to "The Tribunal has already declared that interest includes an interest in the value of what can be made from water" The extreme left wing blog - 'norightturn' is hardly a unbiased source on this issue, but I do agree that there is some truth in your final statement about what Finlayson is attempting to do, though I was certainly not aware that there was anything to ready sign at this stage - can you enlighten us on that?

August 14, 2017 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

From Cabinet Paper....the need to resolve Maori interests in water has been recognised for many years -- this latest from Finlayson is scaremongering. and he knows it..

Iwi and Māori interests
Cabinet also agreed on June 2 [CAB Min (09) 19/7A] that there is a need to make real progress in the unresolved area of Māori rights and interests in water, and that while wider engagement with Māori will also be necessary, the issues would be progressed in the first instance through a group of iwi leaders1 (“Iwi Leaders Group”) and their advisors (“iwi advisors”).
The work with the Iwi Leaders Group and iwi advisors does not constitute Māori engagement and does not attempt to.2 The purpose of engaging with the Iwi Leaders Group and their advisers is to ensure that iwi rights and interests are considered throughout the development of the priority projects and in any new freshwater management policies developed. More comprehensive engagement with iwi and Māori will take place once more detailed policies have been developed and before any final decisions are made. Iwi leaders and their advisers will be involved in developing a process for that consultation.
In recognition of the importance of effective engagement with the Iwi Leaders Group, communication and information exchange protocols have been agreed between the Iwi Leaders Group and Ministers in order to:
form a strong platform from which iwi/Māori rights and interests in fresh water can be addressed
inform the water work programme
provide confidence to Cabinet that decisions taken on fresh water are informed by the views of the Iwi Leaders Group [CAB Min (09) 27/6 refers].
Under the agreed protocols, Ministers and the Iwi Leaders Group will continue to meet up to three times a year.

August 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenis Tegg

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