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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, July 27, 2009

Water debate when well is dry

A resource management and Maori law specialist says it may be getting too late for Maori to press their claims for water.

Tom Bennion, the editor of the Maori Law review, is speaking in Wellington today at an Indigenous Legal Water Forum organised by Otago University law School's Research Cluster for Natural Resources Law.

He says even a decade ago there seemed to be enough water for everyone, but pressure from farmers, power generators and other major water users means available water sources are now hotly contested.

He says unless they push for an overhaul of the law, Maori interests could be hung out to dry.

“Latest cases indicate you get your application in with suitable information and get it up to a standard where it can be publicly notified and if you do that first you get first dibs on the water. Everyone else has to wait until your consent is processed. It certainly doesn’t carry any element of tikanga or particular recognition of Maori values in it at all,” Mr Bennion says.

Other speakers at the forum include Ngai Tahu strategy manager Sacha McMeeking, Waikato University law lecturer Linda te Aho on co-management of the Waikato River, and perspectives from Canada, the united states and Australia.


Greens co-leader Meteria Turei says the search for an official Maori flag is encouraging Maori to consider their position as a sovereign nation.

The Government is holding hui round the country to determine the flag to fly on events such as Waitangi Day.

Ms Turei says only two of the four options have any support.

“The fact it’s coming down to the tino rangatiratanga flag and the declaration flag of 1835 is really good because it’s like the new statement of independence and the historical statement of independence. We’re really pleased people are talking about it as a demonstration of our sovereignty. I think it’s really good,” Ms Turei says.

The flag consultation continues at Te Papaioru marae in Rotorua today, Te Poho O Rawiri marae in Gisborne tomorrow, and Pukemokimoki marae in Napier on Friday.


The most experienced broadcaster in Maori media says television presenters must make more effort to pronounce Maori words accurately.

Henare Kingi from Wellington Maori language radio station Te Upoko O Te Ika says the quality of reo used on television is a strong influence on the way the language is used in the community.

He says it's time for the Maori language commission, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori, to intervene.

This is Maori language week.


A prominent treaty lawyer is warning the government will unleash a new era of Maori protest if it pursues privatisation.

Annette Sykes says Maori should be alarmed by Finance Minister Bill English's moves to change the rules on overseas investment, and strong indications that he is looking to sell off parts of the Landcorp portfolio.

She says it was concerted action by Maori that staved off the sale of state forests and land in the 1980s and 90s ... and many of those assets became part of treaty settlements.

“If we are going to move into a new wave of colonial thievery and chicanery which will see this vast sale of assets that were wrongfully taken from us, then I believe that we’re moving into another generation of confrontation with the conservative governments of the kind that Bill English and his supporters in the National Party promote,” Ms Sykes says.

She says the government is using a secret consultation process to get buy-in from iwi leaders for its privatisation plans.


An Otago University archaeologist says ancient Maori gardens on the Wairarapa coast need protecting.

South Wairarapa District Council is considering an application to turn a fish factory at Waiwhero into a residential subdivision.

Helen Leach says it was a site of Maori settlement as early as the 14th century.

She says stone gardening systems were common around sites of Maori settlement, such as those which used to be on Auckland's volcanoes, but most have been lost to urbanisation and other development.

“These ones are marked by the fat people cleared the rocks and made them into rows and single boulder alignments and so on. They were really very spectacular when I worked on them in the 1970s and the only threat to them at that stage was probably the hooves of animals that wandered over them,” Professor Leach says.

Consent for the Waiwhero project is being opposed by Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane.


Christchurch City Libraries information unit manager believes more Maori would use libraries if the buildings were more reflective of Maori culture.

Carolyn Robertson organised a project where library staff and users made 32 tukutuku panels marking 150 years of library services in Canterbury.

It's part of a wider effort to encourage Maori in the door.

“If our spaces, our buildings actually reflect Maori culture in terms of artwork and from all sorts of aspects or design, that also makes a difference because the message we are conveying is ‘this is your place, this is our place, rather than a strongly European space,” Ms Robertson says.

Christchurch's libraries are also taking on more Maori staff.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pai ou koutou tuhi o tenei rangi! Te pai whakaaro ki ahau ko te hoopu whakaaro o Ta Bennion pa ana ki te takutai he tino taake tena. ka rawe.
Na reira tenei te patai naianei i muri ki te korero o Ta Bennion? He aha te mahi o te Iwi Maori naianei? Ka haere ka haere ka haere ki runga i o koutou waka pa ana ki te ture o te takutai. Huri te ture me torohihi nga kereme o tenei tangata. Heoi he pai tohu ki te Iwi whai atu tana korero.
ka tau!

6:45 PM  

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