MAORI FRESHWATER POLICY ‘IWI INTERESTS AND RIGHTS’
THE MAORI PARTY FRESHWATER POLICY 6th August 2021
Stating that successive governments had failed to acknowledge the rights, interests os whanau/hapu/Iwi/Maori over freshwater. The Maori Party stated they would prioritise ensuring that the Rangatira and kaitiaki rights and interests of tangata whenua are implemented across freshwater management and allocation. To overturn the Crowns position that *everyone owns the water and will adopt a position that acknowledges customary, decision making rights and interests in freshwater. Acknowledge the intrinsic whakapapa of freshwater, support hapu and Iwi to negotiate those whakapapa rights to be acknowledged in Law. Restart negotiations with the Government and Hapu/ Iwi to develop a policy framework on how Iwi/Maori rights and interests are implemented in freshwater management and allocation
Substantially increase funding to the Te Mana o te Wai fund to support the efforts of whanau/hapu/Iwi to protect, restore catchments and aquifers. Te Mana o te Wai is the first principle for freshwater management in Aotearoa – a paradigm Iwi shift. To develop a commercial user pays policy to help ensure fair allocation and support for tanga whenua led catchment restoration. Develop an allocation system, undertake significant reform of the Resource Management Act to ensure that Iwi/Maori rights and interests in water are addressed in RMA processes, including decisions in water takes and discharges.
To honour the rangatira and kaitiaki rights and interests of mana whenua over freshwater. Under British Common Law, naturally flowing freshwater is not owned by anyone but is treated as for the ‘public good’ This is a legal position in New Zealand. There are unresolved issues as to Māori rights to freshwater.
Nick Smith the Minister for the government freshwater policy at the time referred to Maori /Iwi interests as to the governments fresh water policies at an Auckland public meeting saying:-“There would be an obligation on local councils to consult with Iwi about the use of water, in which they might have a special interest”, he also reminded the audience that the government had repeatedly said that ‘nobody owns the water’
This position is supported by Crown obligations to the 1835 Declaration, Te Tiriti, UNDRIP and by our tino rangatiratanga as tangata whenua. “The Waitangi Tribunal said that the Crown should be working d Hapu/Iwi . The Crown should be negotiating with whānau, hapū and iwi directly, not just engaging with their own self-appointed Māori representatives. The Government’s recently proposed NPS is a good step forward, embeds the Te Mana o te Wai principles and obligations. The Māori Party would go further by ensuring that Te Mana o te Wai is guiding all activities, and that is embedded within a reformed RMA.
The Māori Party supports a policy of user pays for commercial consents to freshwater as part of the new regime. Revenue raised from water charges should go to mana whenua given their rangatira and kaitiaki rights and interests, and specific charges and how they are distributed to mana whenua should be determined in the negotiations between tangata whenua and the Crown. This funding could be used to support mana whenua-led restoration work.
The Māori Party would push for any new water allocation system to conform with Te Mana o te Wai and iwi/hapū rights and obligations, including the recognition that each whānau/hapū/iwi maintains their own mana over their waterways. Saying “we would not support allocation based on grandparenting and or perpetual use rights and would ensure that the first takes and discharges provided for are to iwi/hapū, who have a customary right to access an equitable share of the allocable quantum in their area”.
The Māori Party would acknowledge the intrinsic whakapapa and ecological rights of freshwater, and support whānau, hapū and iwi to negotiate for the whakapapa rights of their awa and roto to be acknowledged in law. The hapū and iwi of Whanganui have led the way internationally in terms of recognising the whakapapa of waterways in law. Again refers to Havelock North and human health risk. In the last government the Māori Party was able to win the landmark Te Mana o te Wai policy framework, which included a fund for mana whenua-led restoration projects.
The Waitangi Tribunal found that that hapū and iwi Māori have rights and interests in freshwater under Article 2 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The Tribunal report also noted the failure of the Crown to be Treaty compliant.
National said that “no one owns water” while Labour said that “everyone owns water”. The Maori Party left links on their website to provide evidence for their case.