A Northland iwi chairperson has told the Waitangi Tribunal that Maori will never give up their interest in water.
The tribunal is holding an urgent hearing as the Government prepares to sell a 49% stake in some state-owned assets, including power companies that have hydro schemes.
The Maori Council has filed a claim to the tribunal that seeks recognition of water rights and a recommendation to freeze Crown share sales in the companies.
Haami Piripi from Te Runanga o Te Rarawa was among those who presented submissions to the tribunal on Thursday.
He says Maori should have had a partnership position in the Government's asset sales plan and if tangata whenua had been included in sale proposals there would have been less of an outcry.
Mr Piripi says Maori will never let water go because it's a taonga or treasure, and most tangata whenua don't sell their land.
He predicts New Zealand's economy would benefit if the Crown included Maori in its asset sales plan.