4 Sep 2012

Maori Council awaits full report from tribunal

10:36 pm on 4 September 2012

The Maori Council says it will wait for a final report from the Waitangi Tribunal before taking any further action in response to the delay of the Government's first asset sale.

On Monday, Prime Minister John Key announced that the Government would put off the sale of shares in state-owned Mighty River Power after an interim report from the tribunal found that Maori have proprietary rights over water.

The Government has allowed more time to consult with Maori, and the sale of up to 49% of shares in the energy company is now expected to take place between March and June next year.

Seven Maori Council members who represent each of the tribal claimant areas discussed their next plan of action on Tuesday afternoon.

Rihari Dargaville, who represents claimants from the Far North, says they would prefer to stay out of court and will hold off making a decision until the tribunal's final report, due in mid-September.

"That's not to say at this time that the boxing gloves in regards to legal matters are hung up totally. We would like to honour, at least, the position that the Government has taken and what we've taken."

Mr Dargaville says in the meantime, they will meet with the Iwi Chairs Forum to ensure that they are on the same page.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for the Maori Council, Donna Hall, says she is relieved at Monday's announcement, which allows for careful deliberation and dialogue. She says court action was only a very last resort and is confident the Government is undertaking the consultation for the right reasons.

Another lawyer for the council, Felix Geiringer, says both sides need to talk.

Mr Geiringer told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Tuesday the delay is welcome, but there is frustration over the Government's refusal to talk to the council and hapu who brought the claim.

The issue is a national matter that affects both Pakeha and Maori, he says.