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Appeal likely in Maori water rights claim hearing - lawyer

Thursday 29 Nov 2012 11:16 a.m.

By 3 News online staff

The Maori Council should know before Christmas whether its bid to halt the partial sale of Mighty River Power has been successful.

The hearing over its water rights claim ended at the High Court yesterday, but it could end up going to the Court of Appeal.

Maori Council barrister Felix Geiringer says the New Zealand Maori Council’s case has never been an attempt to halt the sales or stop the sales outright.

“It’s merely an attempt to force the Government to take steps to lessen the impact of those sales on the interests of Maori.”

He says the case is looking at various iwi and hapu having claims to proprietary interests in specific water resources.

“These include water resources actually being used by Mighty River Power to generate their power.”

Mr Geiringer says Maori believe that the sale is going to prejudice the Government’s ability to solve those unresolved claims in the future.

The Government has refused to directly negotiate with iwi over the issue, but Mr Geiringer says that could actually work in the Maori Council’s favour.

“That is the one thing that might get in the way of the sale," he says.

"Because ultimately if there is a legal obligation to take those steps to lessen that prejudice and the Government won’t do it then, the court, the Maori Council says, does have the power to say to the Government, ‘Well hang on, hold your horses, don’t go ahead with the sale until you take those steps.’”

The Government has set down a date of February 18 to resolve all litigation issues in order to get the sale process underway, but there is a worry the court case could take a long time.

“It does seem very likely that whichever side loses they’re going to take this to appeal,” Mr Geiringer says.

Watch the video for the full interview.

3 News

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