A Wellington lawyer who specialises in public policy says a water claim by the Maori Council cannot legally go ahead.
The Maori Council filed a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal on Tuesday, in a bid to either retake control of freshwater resources or obtain partial ownership of State electricity companies.
The council has asked for an urgent hearing, saying the Government's plan to partially privatise the companies could undermine its case. The claim is supported by 11 hapu groups.
But lawyer Stephen Franks, a former ACT MP, thinks existing Treaty settlements involving iwi living alongside major rivers are full and final and preclude further litigation.
He told Morning Report that Waitangi claims already settled cannot be reopened. Mr Franks said these deals include iwi who lay claim to rivers such as the Clutha, the Waitaki and the Waikato.