English delivers second Maori water rights hui

MIKE WATSON AND DANYA LEVY
Last updated 13:37 19/09/2012
TOO FEW: Finance Minister Bill English addresses the sparse crowd at Waikato Stadium last night.
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ

TOO FEW: Finance Minister Bill English addresses the sparse crowd at Waikato Stadium last night.

Tuku Morgan
Waikato Times
TUKU MORGAN: "Why would you want to hui when its outcome is predetermined?"
'IT'S NOT A FARCE': Finance Minister Bill English speaks to media.
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ
'IT'S NOT A FARCE': Finance Minister Bill English speaks to media.

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About 80-90 people from six iwi have turned out at Taupo's Wairakei Resort to hear Deputy Prime Minister Bill English present the Government's water rights roadshow.

Today is the second day of the roadshow, after English yesterday presented to a half-empty hall in Hamilton.

The Government is consulting on a narrow issue of "shares plus" which would give Maori veto rights, following a Waitangi Tribunal recommendation, but it has already said it believed there was no merit in the concept.

The iwi attending today's meeting are Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Arawa, Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Tahu Koriti Kahukura, and Ngati Whaoa.

Tuwharetoa paramount chief Sir Tumu Te Heuheu addressed the meeting, followed by English, who made a 20-minute Powerpoint display outlining the Government's intentions.

Among the crowd are the Mana Party's Annette Sykes, former National Party MP Georgina Te Heuheu, and kaumatua from each of the iwi, including Toby Curtis from Te Arawa.

Ngati Porou leader Dr Apirana Mahuika today said he was not disappointed his iwi were not part of the consultation because it was for those tribes affected by the asset sales.

He would not be drawn on criticisms by Morgan, and backed by Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples, that Prime Minister John Key was "culturally ignorant".

Speaking to MPs at a select committee, he said the Government didn't understand the difference between the Maori concept of mana and ownership. It should discuss the differences with Maori.

"Mana is about an inherited right," he later told reporters.

"Everything that Maori does is determined by mana. It determines how you behave with other people, our you see your physical environment.

"One of the cultural definitions of culture is the manner in which we uniquely interpret our social and our physical responsibilities."

HUI DEALT 'MAJOR BLOW'

The Government's water rights hui had been dealt a "major blow" by last night's boycott and a no show is expected at a further meeting with influential tribe Tainui, iwi member and Maori King Tuheitia's spokesman, Tuku Morgan said.

Morgan today said Tainui leadership boycotted last night's hui because it was felt there was no point engaging with the Government.

"Why would you want to hui when its outcome is predetermined? We believe this is not just a tick the box exercise. This is about a declaration of our specific propriety rights and interests in water and we regard any conversation has to be a serious conversation."

The hui follow a national water hui held by the Maori King last week during which 1000 Maori agreed to present a united front on water rights. The Government has ruled out a Tribunal recommendation for a national water settlement before it embarks on asset sales.

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Morgan said Tainui represented 60,000 people and seven of its iwi boycotted last night's hui.

"Twelve people (who attended) is a complete disregard for the process the Crown put up and that is a major blow to the Crown."

The Government is meeting today with Ngati Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa, in Taupo, and with Whanganui Iwi in Whanganui.

The Maori Party has warned there will be further boycotts but major iwi Ngati Tuwharetoa, which is part of the Iwi Leaders Group which has been negotiating with the Government, is expected to attend.

Morgan said he couldn't speak for other iwi but the Government is due to hold a further hui next week with Ngati Maniapoto, part of the Tainui waka, and a boycott by that iwi was a "foregone conversation".

English today said iwi were free not to show up last night.

"But most of the points of view we expected to hear were articulated there, ranging from the considered through to the more aggressive and a bit of abuse," he told Radio New Zealand.

The Government's predetermined view helped focus the debate and Maori also had a predetermined view, English said.

But Labour leader David Shearer today questioned why the Government was holding the hui.

"You can kind of understand where those people are coming from. This is a bit of a sham consultation process," he told TV3's Firstline programme.

- Stuff

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