31 Jul 2012

Iwi claims to water will go to High Court, predicts Sharples

11:07 pm on 31 July 2012

The Maori Party believes iwi claims to water will end up in the High Court after the Waitangi Tribunal released its interim report calling on the Government to delay selling shares in Mighty River Power.

Prime Minister John Key concedes it's a possibility but says he is relaxed about the report.

The tribunal's interim report found the matter of Maori rights and interests in water and geothermal resources is serious enough to warrant a delay in the sale until it finishes a more substantial report into stage one of its investigation by late September.

While Mr Key says the Government will consider the report in good faith, he has repeated his view the sale of shares in state-owned power companies makes no difference to Maori claims to water.

Maori Party, PM to meet

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says it looks likely now that the matter will go to the High Court.

He says his party will meet Mr Key to discuss the report.

Mr Key says he can't stop people going to court and accepts legal action is possible.

He says the tribunal's interim report will be considered carefully, and the process will include discussions with the Maori Party.

"It's important to understand in that process that both parties will come up with their own individual response but as a sign of good faith we'll certainly have a discussion with them."

Mr Key says he won't speculate on what the Government's response to the interim report will be.

The Maori Party's other co-leader Tariana Turia says the party's role is to work with iwi and the Government to get a resolution.

Mrs Turia says it is up to the Government to decide whether to delay the sale of shares in state-owned power companies.

Labour Party leader David Shearer says the Government will have to abandon its timetable for its partial privatisation programme.

"It can either ignore the Waitangi Tribunal; it will probably face then court action, or it can delay it and wait for the final outcome.

"Either way, this is a shambles that's continuing to just roll on, and the Government's going to have real problems getting its asset sales programme out in the amount of time it's got available to it."