It is important to note that the recent media coverage on this issue was triggered by the public release of a report by private consultants, Sapere, commissioned by some iwi. The Government had no role in the preparation of the report and has made plain we do not support the ideas explored of perpetual rights in fresh water and a nationwide allocation to iwi.
The Government has clearly stated its position:
- No-one owns the water
- There will be no Sealord’s type nationwide allocation
- Freshwater issues need to be resolved catchment-by-catchment because the issues vary significantly
The Government is engaged in a dialogue with iwi over how we can ensure a say for iwi in the management of fresh water within their rohe or area. We are also keen for Māori to be able to economically develop their land. We are also keen to find ways to involve iwi in freshwater clean-up projects. There are already many examples around New Zealand where this is being successfully done in partnership with local communities, such as projects for Lake Taupō with Ngāti Tūwharetoa, with Te Arawa on the Rotorua Lakes, and with Ngāi Tahu on Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.
We are also engaged in our next steps on improving freshwater management with the Land and Water Forum that includes the primary production sector, iwi, environment and recreation interests, energy, urban and industry sectors.
This process is intended to result in the release of the discussion document early next year in which the public will be given the opportunity to comment before any decisions are made. I am confident that we are on the right track to improve New Zealand’s management of our freshwater so as to ensure both economic and environmental benefits for all New Zealanders.