Following stage one of the Inquiry in the Water claim the Waitangi Tribunal found that Māori do have proprietary interests in water. The question then was how those interests should be provided for in legislation. The Tribunal therefore waited for the Crown to complete its work programmes on proposed reforms which, it was assumed, would provide for such interests. It would then proceed to stage 2 to inquire whether the proposed reforms were adequate.
The Crown has now advised that it has completed the first of its proposed reforms. These are set out in Next Steps for Fresh Water. The only remaining matter for the Crown to complete is its proposals for water allocation.
The Tribunal has decided to inquire into the Next Steps for Fresh Water proposals now and to inquire into the allocation proposals when they are ready. The Crown has been reluctant to deal with allocation which is the major concern for the Council.
Next Steps for Fresh Water has significant proposals requiring local authorities to engage with iwi. A major task for our lawyers will be in convincing the Tribunal that the provisions for iwi engagement are not a complete answer to Māori proprietary interests.
The Tribunal has identified the following issues for stage 2.
- Is the current law in respect of fresh water and freshwater bodies consistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi?
- Is the Crown’s freshwater reform package, including completed reforms, proposed reforms, and reform options, consistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi?
a) To what extent do the completed reforms, proposed reforms, or reform options (including those proposed by the Crown in consultation) address Māori rights and interests in specific freshwater resources, as identified by the Tribunal in Stage 1?
b) Do the Crown’s completed reforms or proposed reforms or reform options omit to address Māori rights and interests? What, if any, limits in addressing Māori rights might be appropriate today in Treaty terms?
c) To the extent that Māori rights and interests are addressed, is the resultant recognition of those rights consistent with the principles of the Treaty?
d) To the extent that the Crown has omitted to address Māori rights and interests, or has addressed them inadequately, what amendments or further reforms are required to ensure consistency with the principles of the Treaty?
Over the last few months the major focus for the lawyers has been in marshalling appropriate witnesses and securing funding for their work. Woodward Law has reported at length to the Executive, submitting papers covering the new Claim Management Plan, the Case Theory, the proposed witnesses list and progress on arranging funding for witnesses.
The hearing is set for the week commencing 7 November, in Wellington. The venue has still to be confirmed.
For your interest please find key points pertaining to the claim here: summary-water-claim
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