Claimants urge Government to listen to Tribunal

6:25 am on 31 July 2012

A Northland iwi leader is warning the Government it may face litigation if it chooses to ignore an interim Waitangi Tribunal decision over water rights.

The Tribunal on Monday recommended that the partial sale of state owned assets should not go ahead until findings on its water rights inquiry are released in September.

The urgent hearing was sparked by an application by the Maori Council, which opposed the Government's proposal to sell up to 49% of shares in some power enterprises.

Te Runanga o Te Rarawa chairperson Haami Piripi made a submission to the inquiry into water rights.

Mr Piripi says if the Government ignores the recommendation it may be at risk of facing legal action, which would be a disadvantage for everyone involved.

The Whatitiri Maori Reserve Trust, which owns the land around the Poroti Springs and the Waipao stream, was a co-claimant in the urgent claim to the Tribunal.

Chairman Taipari Munro says his people would be very disappointed if the Government fails to delay asset sales.

"What it would show is that they're still not prepared to take seriously the Treaty itself or take seriously the Waitangi Tribunal which was instituted and set up to deal with these cases."

Pouakani iwi chairperson Tamati Cairns says the Government would be wise to listen to the Tribunal.

Maori Council lead lawyer Felix Geiringer says ultimately the Waitangi Tribunal is not about giving one or other side a victory, it's about finding the best solution to resolve Maori-Crown issues in New Zealand.