Insight for Sunday 17 February 2013
The government says no-one owns water. But it reserves the right, through local government, to control it and decide who may use it , and profit from it.
In their freshwater claims, Maori are challenging the Crown’s assumption of that right. Over the years, hapu have been reduced to the role of spectators, as irrigators , councils, and business people, divvy up resources once set aside for Maori use.
Much of the publicity over the water claims has focused on the plans for share sales in state- owned power companies.
Lois Williams examines the issue of ownership – which underpins the claims – and which Maori say the crown has consistently refused to address.
Image: Trustees of the Poroti springs near Whangarei. Paul Edmonds , Taipari Munro and Lorraine Norris. Although hapu own the springs, they have no control over who takes the water that flows from them or how much is taken .