17 Sep 2012

Government to start talks with iwi on water

10:00 pm on 17 September 2012

The Prime Minister says he will negotiate with Maori in good faith with regards to water rights and the shares plus concept, despite earlier ruling that option out.

On Tuesday the Government is to begin its consultation with some iwi about the shares plus concept raised in the Waitangi Tribunal's interim report on water rights.

Six hui will be held over a 10-day period, with iwi and hapu that have a specific connection to the freshwater and geothermal resources used by the state-owned power companies Mighty River Power, Meridian and Genesis.

If implemented, the shares plus system would give some Maori shareholders rights above those of other shareholders.

John Key says the Government will attend the hui in good faith, and wait to see whether iwi can mount any argument that has not been heard before.

Finance Minister Bill English says the Government has already said such a shareholding would be unattractive, unnecessary and unworkable.

The Maori Party says even so, all options have to be explored, to allow various iwi groups to pursue their rights over water.

But Mr English says now the matter has been raised, the Government will talk to affected iwi about it.

He says over the next 10 days he will listen carefully to iwi, talk through the issues with them and explain the Government's stance.

Mr English says the Government is also inviting iwi directly affected by the issues to write to it by 5 October.