Ruling opens way for Maori riverbed claim
Wed, 27 Jun 2012 6:28p.m.
By Patrick Gower
A Supreme Court ruling has opened the way for a group of Maori to lay claim to some of the riverbed of the Waikato River, which the Government admits could set a legal precedent.
The riverbed at Pouakani near Mangakino has been in Crown ownership since 1887, but the court has now declared that null and void.
The Crown has owned the riverbed at Pouakani for 125 years.
“The Crown has always argued it was Government land under a century old coal-mining law,” says lawyer David Williams.
But today, the Supreme Court ruled that was wrong.
“That could be the ultimate end. But as I say there's a long way to go in this case, it’s a preliminary point,” says Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.
The Maori fight was led by John Paki – but he died before today's success.
The ruling is based on a legal argument as to whether the river area is "navigable" – or usable for shipping. The court decided it wasn't, and with that outright Crown ownership was gone.
And that's led to plenty of political argument over the ramifications.
“It means the river is no longer an uninterrupted channel," says New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. "It’s a serious interruption here. It comes from the highest court in the country and it means a problem.”
This ruling about ownership of the riverbed comes just as the debate about Maori ownership of water rages on around the asset sales issue, so no wonder the Government is stressing they are two different matters.
It’s believed this is the first time this legal argument has been used, and given its success, it may not be the last.
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30/06/2012 9:58:00 p.m.
In any event the Right of Maori (in all the applicable circumstances) to govern themselves is indisputable in the circumstances of Te Tiriti o Waitangi:
27/06/2012 9:34:16 p.m.
Let the mugging and rorting of NZ begin! From Harawira "Today I urge all other iwi to follow their lead and challenge this government's arrogant assumption that they own this precious resource and the rights that come with that ownership".
When is it going to end?
27/06/2012 8:43:21 p.m.
the DR wrote:
I'm all for stopping this arrogant national government giving away OUR assets, but this is such a weak ass argument. By this logic, the state owns our highways so therefore they also own all the cars, trucks and buses that travel on them. as we know this is not true if iwi had water rights they might have an argument but they dont if iwi are our last hope we are all screwed
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