Taranaki iwi leaders will join hundreds across the country today in developing a strategy to protect water interests.
A national water rights hui, called by King Tuheitia, comes in the wake of the Government rejecting a call from the Waitangi Tribunal.
It will be held at the Turangawaewae Marae, at Ngaruawahia, today.
The lineup of speakers include academic Ranginui Walker, Maori Council chairman Sir Eddie Durie, and Tuwharetoa chief Sir Tumu te Heuheu.
King Tuheitia will deliver a speech closing the summit. Former Treaty Negotiations Minister Sir Michael Cullen has had to pull out because of illness.
The Government has refused to attend but the king's spokesman, Tukoroirangi Morgan, said it was never invited anyway.
Ngaruahine Iwi Authority chairman John Hooker said a contingent from some of Taranaki's eight iwi would be there to offer support for a national Maori stance on water and to "protect our current rights".
"We are quite a river rich iwi with 80 per cent coming off Maunga Taranaki," he said. "Basically we want to make sure that there is enshrined korero that covers them.
Members from southern iwi Ngati Ruanui and Nga Rauru will also be attending the hui, which is set to start at 11.30am.
The Waitangi Tribunal had called for a national hui on water after urging a delay to the sale of shares in the state-owned power companies until a mechanism for recognising Maori proprietary interests in water was found.
Prime Minister John Key has said the Government would consult with iwi over the shares-plus option but has also said it is unlikely to change its position.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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