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Treaty gives us the wind - Ngapuhi leader

Wednesday 5 Sep 2012 9:18 a.m.

By Dan Satherley

Ngapuhi leader David Rankin says under the Treaty of Waitangi, Maori might have a claim to the wind.

He says the precedent has been set with Maori claims to water.

"They're all resources," Mr Rankin told Newstalk ZB yesterday. "The wind is a resource. What turns those turbines on those wind farms?"

Mr Rankin says hapu representatives are planning to establish a pan-tribal body to manage shares in commercial wind-generated electricity, and to exercise a casting vote on where wind turbines can be located.

He says article two of the Treaty of Waitangi justifies Maori entitlement to the wind.

"Traditionally, the wind was regarded as a deity in Maori society, and Maori do not consider the Crown have the right to use it without Maori consent."

This morning he told TV3's Firstline the claim was triggered by the Government's plan to sell 49 percent of state-owned power companies.

"[Prime Minister] John Key could have nipped the whole thing in the bud, but the genie's out of the bottle now because he didn't stop the water claim, so it's opened up all sorts of claims to happen," says Mr Rankin. 

"Everything is rolling on because of the privatisation of our power companies… When there's a commercial value placed on the wind, then we have to question who owns it."

When asked if Maori had a spiritual connection to the wind, as they claim to with the country's land and rivers, Mr Rankin said this indeed was the case.

"We can actually prove we've had a connection with wind since the beginning of time."

Mr Rankin admits the claim will fuel anti-Maori sentiment.

"It will enrage much of New Zealand, but there was no problem when the money was being deposited into the coffers of every New Zealander.

"But the problem starts when we're looking at privatisation."

In July Mr Rankin criticised tribes claiming water rights, saying it was "pure greed".

"What they are after is a slice of the pie," said Mr Rankin. "This is not about culture, it is all about profit and personal gains… it is only the elite few manipulating the masses who get to enjoy the money that flows from these settlements."

After wind, Mr Rankin believes Maori will look to claim other property rights, giving aerospace as an example.

Meanwhille, Mr Key says he won't be attending a hui organised by Maori to discuss their claims to water rights next week.

Mr Key announced on Monday that the first state-owned asset sale of Mighty River Power will be delayed until next year to allow time for consultation with Maori.

He said he'd meet iwi on a one-on-one basis, rather than organising a hui.

"This is an issue of rights and interests that should be recognised by the Crown, where appropriate, on an iwi-by-iwi basis. It's not in our view, something that can be resolved through pan-Maori interests."

Mr Key maintains that no one owns water, and says consultations will focus on the 'shares plus' option.

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