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Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Maori leaders seek iwi consent on challenge to Mighty River sale

Maori King Tuheitia Paki. Photo / Greg Bowker
Maori King Tuheitia Paki. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Maori Council is seeking to build a $400,000 war chest to block the Government's partial sale of Mighty River Power but Maori leaders last night said they had to take the request to their iwi for consideration.

Following a series of meetings yesterday, the council, representatives of the Maori King and various hapu and iwi had reached the view that Maori had no choice but to seek review of the Government's decision to press on with the sale.

The council hoped "to turn this into a final decision before the end of the week", it said, but added "it also remains for the New Zealand Maori Council to determine the source of funding to bring this matter before the courts".

The Herald understands council co-chairman Sir Edward Durie has set a budget of $400,000 for the court challenge. Council solicitor Felix Geiringer said that, given the range of groups interested in proceeding with the court action, "there's a very good chance the funding will be there".

"There are one or two groups that have sufficient wealth to help fund it, the problem is not all of the groups are equally wealthy."

Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi said he would advocate supporting the council's claim but the decision would be made by the iwi.

Te Arawa's Toby Curtis said he expected Te Arawa would be approached, but "it is not our decision to make at the committee level, we have to go back to the iwi and seek their endorsement".

Mr Curtis would not say whether he would advocate in favour of supporting the council, but "the mere fact that we're meeting to seek the endorsement of the people - that's almost an advocacy role anyway, but we don't verbalise it".

Mr Geiringer said it would "devastating" if the legal challenge were to fail because of lack of funds.

He said it was not yet decided whether the council would progress its action in the High Court or the Court of Appeal.

- NZ Herald

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