Prime Minister John Key has rejected a national or pan-Maori settlement on water.
Speaking after a hui called by Maoridom’s King Tuheitia, Mr Key also rejected the King’s claim that Maori owned water.
“On all the advice I’ve had the Maori king is wrong ….and that is the view of the Government,” Mr Key said from Tokoroa.
A hui of Maori leaders yesterday called on the government to negotiate a national framework for recognising Maori rights and interests in water before embarking on iwi by iwi negotiations - and warned that Maori would take a challenge to court over the Government’s plan to sell shares in the state owned power companies if it refused.
But the show of unity appears to be fragile with a gathering of the country’s iwi leaders today reasserting their mandate to continue discussions with the Crown over Maori water rights and interests.
There appeared to be little support for establishing a pan-Maori body within the iwi leaders group, many of who disappeared from King Tuheitia's hui before the vote on a national settlement was called for
Mr Key said today the government would not negotiate with a pan-Maori group ahead of talks with individual iwi.
“The government has a very clear position, it believes no one owns water, it does believe that on a case by case basis certain Maori may have rights and interests…but we don’t believe water is a nationalised issue; I don’t see the need for a national hui, national conversation.,” Mr Key said.
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