Clash of views at hui on asset sales

By Yvonne Tahana

Bill English with the media in Rotorua before a consultation hui on the partial sale of state owned assets. Photo / The Daily Post
Bill English with the media in Rotorua before a consultation hui on the partial sale of state owned assets. Photo / The Daily Post

A complex cross section of views has emerged at Finance Minister Bill English's first consultation hui with Maori over the government's partial asset sales.

Te Arawa people packed out a conference room in Rotorua this morning with the loudest applause lent to those opposing any sales.

The government is asking iwi whether it should retain a treaty clause, section 9, when it sells 49 per cent of Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power and Solid Energy.

Section 9 prohibits the Crown from acting in a manner inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and has been the subject of several legal cases to clarify it.

The government has three options, remove it from new legislation, put it in new legislation or work up a new one.

A representative from Ngati Pukenga opened the question and answer session by emphatically telling the government his position was simple - he wanted the clause retained.

However, the Maori Council's legal bid in the Waitangi Tribunal to halt asset sales while the tribunal makes a determination on whether Maori have customary interests in water, ownership, also made the discussion more complex.

A Ngati Rangiwewehi woman said her tribe "totally opposes" asset sales, but in support of Sir Graham's Latimer's council claim. She argued Maori should own water on behalf of everyone.

"Like the rest of us we want something left for the rest of our tamariki...whether they're brown, white black or blue."

Roger Pikia of Te Arawa Holdings asked Mr English if there was a possibility that Maori could have a pre-emptory right when assets were sold.

After the hui Mr English said the Crown hadn't considered any particular special right.
"It's a good idea that they have a chance to have a stake and a number are organising themselves to do that and even those who don't have the capacity now want the ability in the future after they've got their settlement and we're strongly supportive of that."

A second hui is now underway in Hamilton.


- NZ Herald

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