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Prime Minister rejects Maori water rights call

John Key has rejected a call for a national Maori settlement on water.


John Key

JOHN Key has rejected a call for a national Maori settlement on water.

The Prime Minister was speaking following a hui called by King Tuheitia, where he also rejected a claim that Maori owned New Zealand’s water.

“On all the advice I’ve had the Maori king is wrong ….and that is the view of the Government,” Mr Key told Fairfax NZ from Tokoroa.

At the hui, Maori leaders called on the government to discuss a national framework for recognising Maori water rights and interests in water before starting negotiations with individual iwi.

They warned Maori would challenge the Government’s plan to sell shares in state owned power companies if it refused.

However the combined call appears to be on fragile ground, with another gathering of iwi leaders reasserting their mandate to continue discussions with the Crown over Maori water rights and interests.

There was little support for a pan-Maori body within the iwi leaders group,

Mr Key said  the government would not negotiate with a pan-Maori group ahead of talks with individual iwi.

“The government has a very clear  position, it believes no one owns water, it does believe that on a case by case basis certain Maori may have rights and interests…but we don’t believe water is a nationalised issue; I don’t see the need for a national hui, national conversation.,” Mr Key said.