Will TOP be giving ownership of water to Māori?

Will TOP be giving ownership of water to Māori?


Māori would argue that under the Treaty of Waitangi they already have ownership, because at no point was it given away or sold to the Crown. In order to charge for water the ownership issue must be resolved.

As part of the settlement, it is likely that Māori would receive a water allocation in under-allocated catchments. In over-allocated catchments it is likely Māori would receive a share of the revenue from operating the water market. In either case this outcome is more preferable than continuing to give away our fresh water resource to businesses (many of which are foreign-owned) to boost their profits. 

Showing 22 reactions

  • Mark Roxburgh
    commented 2017-07-03 10:12:45 +1200
    I completely agree, this is not a race based issue, it is matter of honouring agreements between two parties.
    The courts are the best place to settle any disputes.
    We can go forward with the clean water policy knowing that one of the major stakeholders, Iwi/Maori have as acted in good faith and have been more than reasonable in accepting settlements in past claims.
  • Nick Reedy
    commented 2017-07-02 12:46:58 +1200
    The direction these comments have taken in a discussion about Maori ownership of freshwater seems to be wandering off topic. It’s not racist in the slightest to suggest that the current process in NZ law, i.e. The Treaty of Waitangi will be the correct forum to decide what rights and allocation of recompense are to be decided in relation to Treaty issues. To suggest that there are racist issues involved is nuts. Take these comments to a Treaty of Waitangi thread and discuss it there. In the meantime lets work within the systems and laws we currently have. Seems pretty straight forward to me.
  • Mark Benson
    commented 2017-06-30 14:36:53 +1200
    I can see that you and I probably agree on more than we disagree on.
    If it is allowed to be perceived as a race based welfare policy in disguise then it is very divisive. (And I don’t support it).

    Your argument against giving unqualified people control of a natural resource is a valid one to take, but in the current setup the only qualification is holding a water right.
    The only qualification required to get most resources is money. Laws like the resource management act and other planning laws are rather weak implements our society has to curb the excesses of the exploiters.
    The question of whether the Maori owned the resource and the degree to which the Treaty of Waitangi is a contract are the subtleties which the Courts and the Waitangi tribunal are best qualified to tackle. (Or some similar entity)

    The water rights Maori had in 1840 may not have been formal or exclusive, but I think it would be naive to assume it was as weak as my right to drink the water and swim in the river given their power at the time.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2017-06-30 10:18:07 +1200
    I have got no argument with helping people who have been damaged by past actions – but after a generation you cannot help the actual people and doing it by race is horribly divisive

    As far as giving unqualified people control of a New Zealand natural resource – I definitely DO NOT agree – they did not create the rivers and I just don’t see how they can be said to have “owned” either the rivers or the fish in the sea – at most they “owned” the (non exclusive) right to drink the water and swim in the river

    Using some of the money made from those resources to help people – YES YES YES -
  • Mark Benson
    commented 2017-06-30 09:58:34 +1200
    Hi Duncan
    Your point about the statute of limitations is interesting. I’m unaware of its particular applicability in this instance. I don’t think it invalidates a contract which has been upheld by modern legal and political decisions. It does call into question issues of compensation for past wrongs, however there are many international precedents for some degree of compensation being paid.
    The TOP policy with regard to water rights is (I think) TOP’s position is that the market is the best tool available to allocate the valuable asset of water. Based on the contract of the treaty, Maori still own it, or some of it, so once the monetary value of that resource starts flowing then Maori should directly benefit.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2017-06-30 09:37:07 +1200
    Hi Mark
    Over 2000 years ago the Romans realised that you could not go back in time without causing further injustice and created the “statute of limitations”
    If we were going to “make good” those who lost out after the Treaty then surely we should be “making good” those who lost out just before then?
    Remember that the main reason that the Maori wanted the Treaty was because the chiefs at that time had just murdered their way to the top of the pile (Musket wars) and wanted the Treaty to ensure that they stayed on the top

    The Romans got it right – you can’t go back more than a lifetime – and that was baked into British Law
    The Treaty Industry is totally in breach of that two thousand year old part of OUR common law

    On top of that it is a really BAD idea to give any racial group an advantage – that (no matter how justified) just feeds the flames of racism

    The problem is that we have too many Maori who are among the poor – the solution is race blind efforts to help ALL of the poor – transfer some of that wealth down in our society to those who need it

    Transferring the wealth to the rich Maori does NOT help and does make racism worse
  • Mark Benson
    commented 2017-06-30 07:30:35 +1200
    Hi Duncan. Please explain further your comment on “correct law”. The political decisions were based on legal and moral imperative to attempt to compensate for huge injustice. My opinion is they tried to make the best of a very difficult and challenging situation.
    As to abusing resources that seems to be the prerogative of ownership.
    Had the"Clan Chiefs" not been dispossessed of their assets by an orchestrated campaign to undermine the contract of the treaty, they would still be rich beyond the relatively minor excesses of the treaty gravy train.
    If you are arguing that the allocation within Maoridom is flawed, that is for their society to work out. I think there are some very good examples as well as some spectacularly bad.
    I agree with your earlier point that the TOP policy on the treaty seems to make their chances of electoral success lower, however justice and fairness can’t just be window-dressing. They have grasped one of the most difficult issues and taken a moral stand like you don’t normally see from the political elite.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2017-06-29 22:03:52 +1200
    Hi Mark Benson
    You are correct – but that reading of the law was a political decision and not correct law
    If we could just pay off the “Clan Chiefs” and move on to doing the real stuff (like all of the rest of the TOP proposals) then I would be happy – but they keep coming back for more AND rather than just paying them off we gave them actual resources to abuse – look at what happened to the fishing rights
    The problem with the Treaty is that it has spawned an entire industry that then lobbies to keep that industry going
  • Mark Benson
    commented 2017-06-29 20:14:58 +1200
    Hi Duncan. From what I have read of TOPs policy on the treaty it is based on law. Law is older than democracy in NZ. The treaty has been recognized by the courts and the government as some kind of contract. Unless it is upheld more compensation will be claimed for future breaches.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2017-06-29 18:00:20 +1200
    Hi Mark
    So I have correctly identified you as a raving racist attempting to foment racial violence
    Thanks – it’s always nice to know where people are coming from
  • Mark Roxburgh
    commented 2017-06-29 17:44:53 +1200
    Yes I agree, denying Maori what they are legally entitled to while everyone else enjoys their democratic rights would be racist.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2017-06-29 17:11:06 +1200
    Hi Mark
    The most racist thing and the thing that causes the most racism is giving one race something that you don’t give to everybody – simple fact
    So why do YOU want to feed the racists??
    Do you have some sort of agenda that requires increased racism
  • Mark Roxburgh
    commented 2017-06-29 12:41:28 +1200
    That comment just shows you have no knowledge or appreciation of Maori culture.
    As far as Iwi are concerned their ancestors are live on and are part of their society.
    Please stop now, you have no clue of what you are talking about.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2017-06-29 10:13:59 +1200
    Hi Mark
    And exactly like the clearances everybody concerned is long dead – there is no point in giving the Clan Chiefs – or Iwi leader more power or money – instead it should be given to the actual people – all of the poorest in our society
  • Mark Roxburgh
    commented 2017-06-29 07:46:55 +1200
    Hi Duncan, you should read NZ history before commenting.
    Your ignorance may be mistaken for racism.
    Maori did not vote with their feet, mostly they were forced to leave to seek work as their traditional resources were taken from them by illegal sales and military force Much like the clearances in Scotland.
    This caused the many social and economic issues now faced by many Maori
    This is fact, documented in our courts and is the wrong we have sought to redress.
    Of course they are New Zealanders, Tangata Whenua, Maori culture is a Taonga for all New Zealanders, and we should be proud and grateful for the Renaissance they themselves have led, and for the settlement process.
    In many countries, I give you Northern Ireland, such disputes have been handled in worse ways.
    To claim Iwi no longer exist is a ridiculous statement. They do and retain their connection with their traditional lands.
  • Alison Walker
    followed this page 2017-06-29 03:28:24 +1200
  • Tim Harrison
    followed this page 2017-06-28 22:06:54 +1200
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2017-06-28 21:37:10 +1200
    Hi Mark
    If that was true then I would agree with you but it’s simply not true – Iwi were the society that the Maori people lived in – their “Nation” – but the Maori people voted with their feet – they no longer live in an Iwi Nation – they live in New Zealand
    The Iwi are about the same as the old Scottish Clan Chiefs and an Iwi leader giving an order would get the same reception that a Clan Chief giving an order would get – maybe not as impolite
    Iwi are not the “Nations” that the Treaty was made with – they are now just a “Club” – and mostly a Rich Man’s Club
    The people that the treaty was signed with are now New Zealanders – all New Zealanders
  • Mark Roxburgh
    commented 2017-06-28 21:30:09 +1200
    No one is “going back” This has been an ongoing issue for Iwi for generations, who have chosen to persue justice through peaceful legal means.
    It’s theirs.
    It was taken wrongly.
    We’re giving it back.
    Simple really.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2017-06-28 21:09:02 +1200
    Hi Trevor,
    The Romans thought of this 2000 years ago – they invented the idea of a “statute of limitations” – basically you can’t go back into the past righting wrongs because you cause more wrongs if you try so they limited it to a human lifetime – that is what we should do – Now too many “Maori” are poor – but the solution to that is to help ALL of the poor!!
  • Trevor Johnston
    commented 2017-06-28 20:44:03 +1200
    I don’t like this thread in the Top policies that seem to promote separatism and privelege Maori above other ethnicities .. I don’t know what the answer is but perpetuiating race based policies in order to right past grievances does not seem right either and won’t end well ….
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2017-06-28 20:28:55 +1200
    Disagree entirely – the treaty was with a number of “Maori Nation” – these no longer exist, the people of those nations are now New Zealanders
    Iwi are now just rich mens clubs and of no more relevance than Scottish Clan Chiefs