Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Pouakani considers how to move forward after delay

Karapiro Hydro Station. Photo / Supplied
Karapiro Hydro Station. Photo / Supplied

South Waikato hapu Pouakani says it would have been working on a court injunction to halt the sale of Mighty River Power today if the Government had not delayed the sale.

"That was the meeting we were going to have today but of course the decision has given us more time to meet and consider the way forward," Pouakani spokesman Tamati Cairns said this morning.

Pouakani this year won a Supreme Court ruling in its favour in relation to the Waikato River bed near Mangakino where Mighty River has dams.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday announced the partial sale of Mighty River would be delayed from late this year to sometime between March and June next year to allow the Government time to consult affected iwi.

The announcement was in response to the Waitangi Tribunal's interim recommendations on the Maori Council's claim that the sale should be delayed until Maori water rights were dealt with. However, Mr Key ruled out the tribunal's recommendation of a hui to consider Maori water rights on a national basis.

The Maori Council had also threatened court action if the Government pressed ahead with the Mighty River sale. Deputy chairwoman Rahui Katene this morning said the council's claimant management committee which includes Pouakani was to meet later today to discuss the Government's response and take legal advice on their next steps.

She said what was missing from Mr Key's response yesterday was a pledge to deal with Maori who were not necessarily represented by the Iwi Leaders Group.

"It's great they deferred the sale of shares but they do need to talk to the right people. While it's good that three or four favoured iwi are going to be able to sit down with the Government, it does need to be talking with Maori Council which represents all Maori."

If the Government did not engage with the council, "We do have other options and we are considering where to go from here".

Mr Cairns said Pouakani was still considering how it would move forward with its case. The hapu had not considered shares in Mighty River as a potential form of redress and had not been approached by the Crown for discussion of its case or consultation over the Mighty River sale since it won its Supreme Court case earlier this year.

Meanwhile, as Mr Key was announcing the Mighty River delay yesterday, Hawkes Bay iwi Ngati Kahungunu announced it was taking its own claim to the Waitangi Tribunal over fresh water.

Chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said his iwi saw the delay to the Mighty River sale as an opportunity to bring definition to the merits of unsettled claims by Ngati Kahungunu hapu before any rights were sold off.

Mr Tomoana said Ngati Kahungunu had the second largest aquifer in New Zealand, "and it is paramount that this treasured resource is protected".

- NZ Herald

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