The government’s announcement is not a surprise. Council is not concerned that government will not be offering Maori any shares. The issue is not about money, it is ensuring that our papakainga and our people have access to water and their existing interests in water are protected.
Council is looking for recognition of what we say have been the customary rights of the Maori people. The government is not prepared to look at what these rights are. What government is prepared to do is ask Iwi to negotiate their rights as part of their settlement programme. That is not the point. How can you expect people to negotiate about their rights, if they do not know what their rights are? We are saying settle these rights first, determine what they are. We don’t know how extensive Maori rights are but they do need to be determined and they do need to be recognised. Only then is it right to Iwi and Hapu and ask what they want to do about their rights.
Today those who have been working on the claim will meet to talk about the next steps. We will consider these things carefully. We believe that a fair government will talk to us about what it is that we are trying to achieve. Government won’t talk to the Council on this issue.
Government’s unwillingness to talk to Council is forcing Council to take court action. Council will now talk to others involved in the claim and see if they are prepared to take court action. Court action will cost about $400,000. This will be difficult for those most affected as these are iwi who have not yet settled their Treaty claims and do not have significant financial resources.
If there is a decision in principle to take court action, we will then consult with the many iwi and claimants involved. By the end of the week we will know whether we are definitely going into court.