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Ed Sheeran

Water rights shipped overseas

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An advisor to the Freshwater Iwi Leadership Group says it’s critical Maori interests in water are defined before they are lost.

The group is working with officials on a new management framework, and it has been consulting with iwi on what Maori rights and interests could look like within that.

Willie Te Aho says existing systems haven’t worked for Maori, with other groups getting priority access.

He says in the case of groups like the owners of Poroti Springs near Whangarei, a decision from the Native Land Court that they owned not only the land but the spring itself has been ignored in favour of the local council, irrigators and a private water bottling company.

"And so what they are saying is we’ve got to get our rights determined first before the Resource Management Act use rights kick in. I think they are absolutely right. We’ve got to make a stand, we’ve got to make sure we protect these rights, otherwise they will be bottled up and shipped overseas," Mr Te Aho says.

He says in the case of Turanga or the Poverty Bay area, Maori landowners will need to more than double their access to water if they are to bring their land to full production.
 

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