Secret meetings are being held in Wellington between iwi and the Government to set up a separate entity that handles water allocation rights, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has claimed.
Peters, who was at a meeting in Morrinsville tonight to launch New Zealand First's Waikato candidate Stu Husband's election campaign, said that the Waikato Regional Council was keeping people in the dark over the management of the water.
"Your water rights here are going straight out of control under your nose and you are not being told by the regional council here as to what they have done," he said.
Peters was referring to minutes of a meeting he requested under the Official Information Act (OIA) confirming Prime Minister Bill English, Nick Smith, Simon Bridges, Te Ururoa Flavell and Waikato regional chairman Alan Livingston met with representatives from iwi including Tainui, Raukawa, Te Arawa River Iwi, Ngati Tawharetoa and Maniapoto to discuss the Waikato and Waipa River Review.
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In the May 10 meeting, the ministers and iwi representatives discussed co-management mechanisms, accords and joint management agreements.
Much of the minutes were blocked out in the request because the Ministry of Environment did not believe it was within the scope of the request.
However, iwi groups claimed during the meeting that ownership of the Waipa and Waikato Rivers had never been resolved - something Peters said would be a surprise to many New Zealanders.
The ministers agreed in the meeting that relevant iwi must be engaged with if it disposes of any property right or interests in the Waikato river or introduces a statutory body or process to do so.
Peters said the minutes he had told enough of the picture.
"It tells you this - that there is going to be a new statutory body that you've never heard about which will control the outcome where water is concerned.
"I can bet you my bottom dollar that 99 per cent of Maori knows nothing about this because they've never been asked either."