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Drinkable water first priority for marae

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Drinkable water first priority for marae

A lawyer who has been involved in discussions with the previous Government over water says there are urgent issues which can’t wait for the high level talks over water ownership.

The Iwi Leaders Group and some iwi have refused to participate in the Government’s new Māori freshwater forum, Te Kāhui Wai Maori, with Ngāi Tahu saying that as the treaty partner in most of the South Island it insists on direct talks.

Other groups though have made nominations, as Environment Minister David Parker has made it clear he wants to consult with a wider range of Māori than under National.

Willie Te Aho expects a range of responses from participation to protest and legal action, but iwi and Māori landowners have more urgent needs to address.

"That’s the simple issue of how do we get our share of fresh water to our lands to increase our productivity or in the case of some marae and rural homes, how do we get potable water, fresh drinking water, to those marae and to those homes," he says.

Meanwhile, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says the South Island iwi won’t nominate anyone for the new Māori freshwater forum Te Kāhui Wai Maori.

Instead as the treaty partner in its takiwā it will seek direct engagement as soon as possible.

She says it won’t be party to any proposed court action because its deed of settlement commits it to negotiating in good faith before any court action.


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