Treaty wind claim seems full of hot air

By Yvonne Tahana

David Rankin. Photo / Dean Purcell
David Rankin. Photo / Dean Purcell

David Rankin from Ngapuhi was full of bluster yesterday after his Treaty of Waitangi claim on wind was taken at face value - rather than as an intended spanner in the works of the asset sales programme.

The Matarahurahu hapu spokesman hit "send" on a press release which said his wind claim wasn't just "flatulence".

"Like fish in the 1980s and water more recently, wind will become a property right and its commercial use will be a tradeable commodity," he said.

Yesterday, he told the Herald he'd been sending "subliminal" messages in his releases about the ills of the partial selldown of power assets - but no one had picked up on them.

"For me it's about how we debate the issue of privatisation ... it's actually to test things with fire."

Asked if his original intention was to undermine the water claim, he said: "Absolutely." But when pressed on whether he thought Maori actually had a claim on wind, his answer was left blowing in the wind.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson said while he appreciated dry humour, Mr Rankin's claim detracted hugely from the positive work around Treaty settlements - such as the Tamaki Collective maunga deal signed off in Auckland at the weekend.

He said the majority of New Zealanders were fair-minded and accepted the process but these types of claims increased ill feeling towards Maori.

"When I was dealing with the foreshore and seabed legislation I'd get emails saying 'why don't you get cancer', and 'how dare you give property rights to people above their station?'

"It does bring out that element who don't like this stuff and they express themselves in pretty intemperate terms."

It is unclear if Mr Rankin's claim will get a hearing as the Waitangi Tribunal chairman is yet to consider it.

A Justice Ministry spokesman said any claimant seeking to bring an inquiry forward on the tribunal's programme must make an application to do so.

"This is generally done in the form of an application for urgent consideration of a claim. The tribunal will only grant such applications in exceptional cases."

Prime Minister John Key told media in Japan: "My view is pretty clear: no one owns water, no one owns wind, no one owns sunlight, no one owns the sea. I could give you quite a long list if you like."

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei told Newstalk ZB: "It undermines the very serious claims that are going on at the moment around water. I don't think it's a wise claim to make, and I don't think it's justifiable."

A spokesman for the Attorney-General said the Crown Law Office had not been served Mr Rankin's claim.

Bluff and bluster

The Herald asked David Rankin if he thought a wind claim was right. These were his answers:

Do you think it's right?
I believe that actually, if we've got a chance of pulling it off - we'll give it a go.

Do you think it's right?
Hahahaha.

Do you think it's right?
Yeah I do ... oh ...

Do you think it's right?
Umm, well - is it right ...

Is it right?
If it protects our state assets, it's right. If it protects rights for everybody it's right.

- NZ Herald

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