20 Jul 2012

Maori Council finishes water rights submissions

9:16 pm on 20 July 2012

The Maori Council legal team has finished making its submissions to the Waitangi Tribunal hearing on fresh water and geothermal water rights, reiterating that the case was not about Maori physically owning the water.

An urgent hearing has been held during the past fortnight in an attempt to hold up the sale of shares in four state-owned power companies, including hydro electricity generators.

In his final submissions on Thursday, Maori Council lead barrister Felix Geiringer said Pakeha don't appear to understand the Maori belief that Taniwha are guardian spirits of the waterways.

"From an English law perspective that is a very clear indication of an intention to exclusively possess that water resource.

"It's misunderstood in the English media as a story about a silly monster, where really it's a very powerful message from the Maori in accordance with their tikanga that this was their water resource for them to use and not for other people to use."

Ngati Ruapani lawyer Kathy Ertel is confident the tribunal will come to a decision on whether the partial sale of state owned assets breaches the treaty, but says there will be a long and fraught road ahead before the issue of water rights is resolved.

The Waitangi Tribunal hearing closed on Friday following final submissions from the Crown.