Irrespective of who owns the land over which the water flows, under common law and statute law, water is owned by no-one. There is absolutely no legal, moral or common sense justification for any Iwi/Māori to claim freshwater. The legal situation is that no-one owns water, no-one ever has. Reference was made to common law and the Water and Soil Conservation Act 1967 and the Resource Management Act 1991. (Canterbury University Law lecturer David Round

Water was never regarded by the common law as a commodity. The courts held that a land owner had no right to the ownership of water which either flows through or percolates within the land. In this way the courts recognised water like air is not only vital to the survival of all species on the planet but is something in which humanity has no hand in creating. It therefore like air occupies a unique status in the eyes of common law, it cannot be owned by anybody. Irrespective of the law.

Some Iwi/Maori have continued to claim ownership of freshwater. But since successive govts and courts have consistently rejected their opportunist claims, they have now turned their attention to the ‘control’ of water. (Former Judge Anthony Willy) “Water was never regarded by common law as a commodity”. Former Law Lecturer, Judge Anthony Willy, agrees: “Water was never regarded by the common law as a commodity

The truth is that no form of constitutional govt of itself can guarantee our civil liberties, but the intersection of the Rule of Law as administered by the Courts and the democratic process offers the best protection known to history- the enablement of tribal groups to gain control of freshwater will therefore not only entrench separatism in NZ but it will undermine the Rule of Law. (Judge Anthony Willy) 

Under British common law, naturally flowing freshwater is not owned by anyone, but is treated as a public good. 

NZ Bill Of Rights (Private Property Rights) Section 11A, “Right to own property”, inserted by clause 4, states: “Everyone has the right to own property, whether alone or in association with others.” Section 11B, “Right not to be arbitrarily deprived of property”, inserted by clause 4, states: “No person is to be deprived of the use or enjoyment of that person’s . 

NZ Bill Of Rights has been traditionally contained in Common Law in ‘The Judges Rules 1912 now set in 23 (1)b of The NZ Bill Of Rights 1991.

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