Proposed water scheme neglects duty - Ngai Tahu

A proposed scheme to give Maori additional rights when state-owned power companies are partially sold neglects ''our duty to look after all of our waterbodies'', Ngai Tahu's chairman says.

The last of six hui held around the country on the ''shares plus'' option raised by the Waitangi Tribunal was held at Christchurch's Rehua Marae last night.

The option would give Maori additional rights not available to other shareholders, when state-owned energy companies were partially sold.

The Government is opposed to the idea and has said Maori would have to convince it otherwise.

In presentation released to media last night, Ngai Tahu chairman Mark Solomon said the Government's decision to partially sell some state-owned assets had ''diverted our attention away from the bigger picture''.

''We need to be discussing how every iwi, and all of their runanga, hapu or marae can have an equitable opportunity to participate at all levels relating to the control, management and use of all waterbodies in their areas.''

Ngai Tahu's relationships with its lands and waterways came with both rights and responsibilities, he said.

He described several projects Ngai Tahu was working on with regional councils to improve waterways, including restoring the Oaro River mouth and signing a co-governance relationship with Environment Canterbury to repair Lake Ellesmere.

''None of the examples I have covered tonight have a state-owned power company anywhere in sight and that is true for most of our waterbodies.''

Ngai Tahu's key issues continued to include water quality, sustainable use and equitable considered for iwi when it came to economic benefits, he said.

''It is a seductive idea that via a 'shares plus' regime, Ngai Tahu could have something akin to a veto right over how Meridian and/or Genesis operate within the Ngai Tahu takiwa (district).

''Our issue is that we do not see how the supposed benefits of 'share plus' could give effect to rights and interests of Ngai Tahu whanui across our takiwa.''

The Press