14 Jul 2012

Maori Council invites PM to talk water rights

10:50 am on 14 July 2012

The Maori Council is to formally invite Prime Minister John Key to discuss its fresh water claim.

At an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing on water rights, lawyer Paul Radich on Friday opened for the Crown by saying it accepts Maori have interests in fresh water and geothermal resources.

Maori Council co-chair Maanu Paul says the council will now invite Prime Minister John Key to direct talks.

"The right as far as the New Zealand Maori Council is concerned is the mana to control and use the water.

"We have always claimed that right. The solicitors have said we have that right. New we're saying 'here's our plan of how we should move on from this point foward'."

Mr Paul told Te Manu Korihi he plans to issue the invitation at the tangi of Maoridom's senior statesmen Sir Timoti te Heuheu.

"The Maori people want to hear (Mr Key) say quite clearly that he will sit down and consult with the Maori Council and all the hapu who came to support this claim."

Tribunal hearings were held urgently as some of the energy companies have hydro schemes, including Mighty River Power which is due to be sold in September depending on market conditions.

Maori Council members filed a claim to the tribunal that seeks recognition of water rights and a recommendation to freeze Crown share sales in the companies.

Submissions from claimants represented by the Maori Council and other independent parties were heard earlier in the week and Crown submissions continue on Monday.