28 Sep 2012

English says iwi don't want to deal with Maori Council

2:54 pm on 28 September 2012

Finance Minister Bill English says iwi have told the Government they want the Crown to deal directly with iwi regarding water rights, not the Maori Council.

The round of consultation hui with tribes on the partial privatisation of state-owned energy companies wound up in Christchurch on Thursday night.

The six meetings were held after the Government decided to delay the sale of shares in state-owned company Mighty River Power until early 2013. There was little interest, however, in the idea of offering Maori shares with extra benefits.

The Waitangi Tribunal has proposed that iwi and hapu affected should be given a special shareholding (known as shares plus) in the partially-privatised power companies and rights above those of other shareholders.

Mr English told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Friday that Maori leaders turned up to all hui except the first and showed no interest in the Crown negotiating with the Maori Council.

"What I saw was no interest really in the Government dealing with the Maori Council because they don't actually represent anybody who has got a right or interest in water and an interest in getting on with the discussion about how to lift our water quality."

Mr English says Ngai Tahu leaders said they felt the Waitangi Tribunal's views on the proposed share sales were a distraction to long-term issues of water quality and economic growth and the sooner they were resolved, the better.

Ngai Tahu chair Mark Solomon says although the shares plus concept may appeal to others, it does not deal with any of the issues faced by his tribe's waterways.

Mr Solomon says the hui focused more on the broader issue of water quality and conservation.