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Rights, Not Closed Minds, Mr Key

Submitted by admin on Wed, 07/11/2012 – 10:18

The New Zealand Maori Council today hit back at statements made by the Prime Minister by reminding him that the Council is seeking findings on rights and proprietary interests and that the Waitangi Tribunal has the statutory responsibility to make findings on Treaty breaches and Treaty principles.

“Unfortunately Mr Key appears to be trying to usurp the role of the Waitangi Tribunal by saying no-one owns water and the Crown has not breached the Treaty,” said Rahui Katene, Deputy-Chair Communications. “In fact, several Waitangi Tribunal reports into different claims already show that the Crown has breached Treaty principles in relation to some rivers, springs, waterways. The problem is the Crown refuses to accept these findings and act on the reports, so continues to breach the principles of the Treaty.”

Mrs Katene worries that the Crown is spoiling for a fight: “The Prime Minister apparently has stated he will take no notice of the Waitangi Tribunal. If this is so, he is buying himself a fight with Maori. The Waitangi Tribunal has an important role for race relations in New Zealand. The danger with the Prime Minister’s approach is that he is seriously undermining his and his government’s credibility.”

Mrs Katene argues that the evidence produced so far for the Tribunal is compelling in showing that Maori had rights in respect of both freshwater and geothermal resources and that those hapu and whanau giving evidence never gave up those rights.

“If the Crown is a serious Treaty party it needs to stop and listen to what Maori are saying, and not pay lip service or ignorant responses to real concerns,” she concluded.

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