Cold Creek bill soon to become law

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2013
TARIANA TURIA
MURRAY WILSON
IWI NOT CONSULTED: Tariana Turia.

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Controversial Cold Creek legislation, damned by the Maori Party, is set to become law despite complaints it undermines Treaty of Waitangi negotiations.

The South Taranaki District Council (Cold Creek Rural Water Supply) Bill successfully completed Parliament's committee stage on Wednesday.

The bill transfers land from the South Taranaki District Council to the Cold Creek Community Water Supply Limited.

It will go to its third reading in in less than a fortnight.

The Cold Creek scheme in coastal Taranaki is within the electorate of Whanganui MP Chester Borrows who has championed the legislation on behalf of the farmers who set up the scheme three decades ago.

Mr Borrows said yesterday the bill was now poised to become law.

"It will easily get the numbers. It has the support of National, Labour, Act and United Future," Mr Borrows said.

But Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is calling for a halt to the bill's progress on behalf of Taranaki iwi.

"The local iwi are absolutely opposed to this bill," Mrs Turia told Parliament this week.

She said the relevant Taranaki iwi were not consulted, engaged or involved in the development of the bill despite being the traditional caretakers of the area.

The same iwi were currently engaged in settlement negotiations and could rightfully expect to be involved in the decision-making process involving the transfer of Crown assets out of Crown ownership, Mrs Turia said.

Taranaki iwi suffered some of the most serious breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi at the hands of the Crown.

"It is unconscionable that although the Crown is engaging in a process to redress these very serious breaches it continues on the other hand to perpetuate the unfair and unjust treatment of our people."

Mr Borrows said the council did consult with iwi through its iwi consultation committee over several years. However, in hindsight he acknowledged that today it would have been done differently and consultation would have been directly with the affected iwi.

Mrs Turia said nothing had changed to give the Maori Party any confidence that the concerns iwi had raised regarding the lack of proper consultation, the privatisation of water infrastructure or future impacts on land value and access to water had been taken into account.

"There is a word that begins with ‘r' that could describe the situation.

"It is the very least institutionalised discrimination that seemingly means Taranaki iwi have no say about what happens in their rohe," Mrs Turia said.

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Mr Borrows said it was important to distinguish that scheme was not about water but about infrastructure - pipes and concrete.

"It is not about stream beds or creek beds and it is not about water. It is about a water supply conduit."

Mr Borrows said the recently upgraded Opunake water supply, which had used Cold Creek water in the past when its own supply was contaminated, would still be able to use Cold Creek in emergency situations.

The Green Party is against the bill saying significant community assets should stay in public ownership and be available for all.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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