The Crown must address rights and interests in freshwater

Feb 5, 2020

Ngāi Tahu shares the view of Iwi Chairs that the government needs to progress engagement with iwi, hapū and whānau on their rights and interests in freshwater. Our waterways are in crisis, says Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai at Waitangi.

“At least 62% of Aotearoa’s surface water resources and 81% of total groundwater volume resides within the Ngāi Tahu takiwā (tribal area).”

“Like previous governments, the current coalition government has refused to face up to this issue and give effect to their Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations. This is unacceptable.”
“It’s in the interests of all New Zealanders for the government to invest in a process for meaningful engagement with its Treaty partner. This means committing to a framework to engage iwi by iwi and to recognise our rights and interests in freshwater – a pan-Māori approach will not work.”

Mrs Tumahai says Ngāi Tahu has clearly communicated its position on freshwater to successive governments and is urging the government to come to the table. They are not off the hook.
“The failure of governments to start grappling with this issue makes it difficult to advance reforms in the freshwater space, including ensuring the much-needed restoration of the health of our freshwater. We are not expecting the government to resolve iwi interests and rights immediately, but we do expect them to uphold their obligations as Treaty partner, and fully commit to finding a resolution.”

Ngāi Tahu believes recognition of its rights and interests in freshwater can be achieved while respecting the rights and interests of others.

“We have strong partnerships with our communities and stakeholders in the Ngāi Tahu takiwā. We have an inherent right of rangatiratanga over freshwater and are working with our communities to advance this with pace.”