The Green Party has welcomed the establishment of the new Crown-Māori partnership on fresh water, Te Kāhui Wai Māori, and will continue to push strongly for Māori rights over water to be upheld, says party co-Leader Marama Davidson.

Davidson told Andy Thompson on The Country today that the partnership would focus on fair water distribution and management for everybody.

But what does it mean for current water users, including farming, horticulture and hydro-electricity sectors?

"It's trying to find a way through and have a decent conversation about trying to rectify some of the injustice that has happened over many generations."


She said the partnership was a forum for the Crown and Māori to have that debate.

Listen below:

Thompson put it to Davidson that some would say water belongs to everybody.

Davidson said there was clear disagreement and discomfort with the line that water belongs to everybody: "It denies a treaty principle for Māori to be able to maintain kaitiakitanga and tino rangatiratanga over water rights."

Thompson asked what would it look like if water rights were granted to Māori?

"What we're trying to do is come to a [solution] - how do we allow Māori to be able to develop and use their land when water allocations have not been distributed in a way that's fair?.

"Trying to figure out how do we get the management and ownership of water back to Māori land and Māori landowners in particular.

"How do we decide what water is used for, and ensure good representation of Māori at that table as well."

Thompson asked if they were talking about taking existing water rights off users and reallocating.


"That's what's up for discussion," Davidson said.

"We're trying to manage some really challenging things.

"There has been a massive injustice for generations of water allocation.

"How do we balance that out? That's on the Crown really.

"Our longstanding position is we reject the bottom line of everybody owns water."

Thompson asks whether the water that is allocated to hydro plants will be up for discussion.

Davidson says the conversation so far hasn't included hydro plant water usage, focusing more on land allocation and land use of water.

"I haven't seen in the discussion so far a reference to changing what we've got in terms of hydro. But I have to say in the Treaty settlements that have gone through, and are going through, hydro plants governance and management does come through some of those Treaty settlements."