October 17, 2012
Water claim about protecting marae
A lawyer for the New Zealand Maori Council says there are hundreds of marae and hapu ready to stand behind claims to water.
Donna Hall says preparing a high court challenge to the sale of the state power companies is a huge logistical challenge because of the number of claimants who need to have their views considered.
The council wants to stop the sale of shares in Mighty River Power until any Maori interests in the water and its business uses are recognised in an appropriate way.
Ms Hall says the underlying issue is how marae and hapu can protect their access to water in the face of competing users.
"We need to be very clear that water as a commodity, a utility, it is going to be Maori marae community that are going to be the most exposed and there needs to be a way of guaranteeing that access for us because if we lose our marae, we lose whole hapu and the identity of who they are," she says.
Ms Hall says a good example is Bridge Pa near Hastings, which frequently suffers water shortages because water is diverted for grape growing and horticulture.