Maori Council water claims rejected

Last updated 16:48 11/12/2012

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The Maori Council and Maori groups have lost their initial bid to stall state asset sales over water claims.

In a ruling issued today High Court Judge Ronald Young said he was satisfied the three proposed decisions by the Crown were not reviewable by the court.

They included the decision to move Mighty River Power out of the SOE Act, amending the constitution of the power generator/retailer and selling the shares.

The Maori groups have previously indicated it would appeal the case if it went against it.

Finance Minister Bill English welcomed the decision.

"I reject the claim that there was a breached legitimate expectation of Maori either to the substantive claim or the procedural complaints which made the sale decision lawful. These claims were essentially a repeat of other claims already rejected." Justice Young said.

He was satisfied the Crown would not be acting inconsistently with the principles of the Treaty. And he was satisfied there was no connection between the sale of shares in MRP and the need to provide for Maori claims to proprietary rights in water by way of potential redress or recognition of rights.

"I do not consider the three decisions or intended decisions of the Crown... were based in part on the proposition that 'at common law no one owned the water'. No error of law was, therefore, established," he said.

The claimants had argued Prime Minister John Key's statement about the common law was linked to the Government's decision to sell.

The Crown was not obliged to allow the Waitangi Tribunal process to be finished, Justice Young said..

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- Waikato Times

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