An academic says Maori should "immediately" take a case to court to test whether Treaty rights extend to preferential purchasing treatment of state-owned assets.
Rawiri Taonui, Adjunct Professor of Indigenous Studies at Auckland University of Technology, said it was a cynical step not to include the section 9 clause, which says that "nothing in this act shall permit the Crown to act in a manner that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi".
"Section 9 is really powerful because it allows Maori the opportunity to take Crown decisions to an independent tribunal - that is the courts," Professor Taonui said. "Someone should go immediately to the Waitangi Tribunal or the High Court and follow that process."
Maori have already been to court in relation to asset sales. In response to the sale of forestry assets in the 1980s the New Zealand Maori Council took the Crown to court. That pioneering case was the basis for the current SOE act.
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Council deputy chairman Richard Orzecki said the council was disturbed that the clause may not make it to the new law when the legislation was a huge struggle to gain in the first place. "I think the Government is trying to reconcile its books. In their haste to solve one problem they've actually created another."
Ngapuhi's Sonny Tau, a member of the Iwi Leaders Group, said he backed the Maori Party leaders' stance. He said iwi had instructed the party to ensure that tribes had "first cab off the rank" status to purchase state-owned assets.