Turia slams Govt's consultation over water

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 14:54 18/09/2012

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Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has slammed the Government's so-called consultation over water rights.

Finance Minister Bill English yesterday announced six hui to be held over 10 days with iwi and hapu considered to have a special connection to freshwater and geothermal resources used by state-owned energy companies.

The meetings will discuss "shares plus", a concept raised by the Waitangi Tribunal but slated by the Government.

The tribunal said shares alone were not enough to compensate Maori for their proprietary interest in water and said they should have rights about other shareholders.

Prime Minister John Key has rejected the concept but said the Government would consult with Maori who would have to come up with solid reasoning to convince them otherwise.

Turia said that was not consultation.

"I think its inappropriate to go out with a predetermined situation rather than going out and actually consulting with iwi. I don't think I would have been turning up either."

Tainui iwi representatives are boycotting the hui in their area and Turia said she expected more groups to do the same.

"It's entirely up to them what they do."

It could not be genuine consultation if one side already had a predetermined notion, she said.

"That's not consultation, that's wasting peoples' time.

"They already have a predetermined their position and so that's not consultation, that's going out and telling people what it is."

The Government were obviously trying to "tick that box" so if a court case arises they can claim they consulted with Maori, Turia said.

She is meeting with the Government tomorrow night and will pass on her concerns.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said he has "got something between my ears" and so had come to a position on shares plus.

It was cynical to suggest the consultation hui were only window dressing for a possible court case, he said.

"These are our views, prove us wrong if you want to. That's what consultation is about.

"I recognise that I'm not infallible and if someone can prove me wrong that's great. That's what an open mind is all about."

He said it was an important issue of consultation and he thought Tainui could have turned up.

"But anyway it's their choice."

Earlier today Labour leader David Shearer said the consultation hui were "pointless" when the Government had already ruled out a shares plus programme.

"Why start a hui, or go into any discussion where in fact you've already said there is no point in having this discussions cause I don't agree with what we're actually putting on the table."

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It was not real consultation but was aimed at improving the Government's position if it had to go to court, he said.

"It is not a consultation that is genuine... it's an absolute sham."

- Stuff

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