Water Case

NZMC Comments on Supreme Court Decision

  • Dated: Wednesday 27th February 2013
  • The Supreme Court has issued a unanimous decision in New Zealand Maori Council v Attorney-General (Water Case).
  • The Supreme Court overturned every basis of the High Court’s decision in favour of the Crown.
  • However, the Supreme Court has declined to make the orders sought by the Council.
  • The Supreme Court held, contrary to the submissions of the Crown and the finding of the High Court, that the issues raised the New Zealand Maori Council were able to be determined by the Court.
  • The Supreme Court further found, contrary to the submissions of the Crown and the finding of the High Court, that the Crown was required in all matters related to the new Mixed Ownership Model Companies to act in a manner consistent with the principle of the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • The Supreme Court also found that the sale of the power-generating SOEs as MOM companies would impair the Crown’s future ability to provide redress in relation to various Maori water claims.
  • However, the Supreme Court determined that that impairment needed to be balanced against other factors before the requested injunctions would be granted.
  • In particular, the Supreme Court noted the extensive promises and undertakings made by the Crown during the course of the proceedings to the effect that it would take real steps to address the various Maori water claims and would not be deterred by any impairment resulting from the sale.
  • Given those many undertakings, the Supreme Court found the impairment to the Crown’s ability to resolve Maori water claims caused by the sale was not enough to justify granting the orders to stop the sale.
  • The Crown’s undertakings gives Maori a basis to believe that for the first time in many decades the Crown will now take genuine steps to resolve their water claims.
  • NZMC determined to hold Crown to its undertakings.

Media Release By:

Edward Taihakurei Durie & Rahui Katene

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