Freshwater report a platform for discussion

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu have welcomed the clarity of findings in the Wai 2358 Stage 2 Report released by the Waitangi Tribunal today.

Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says the report makes several clear observations regarding Māori interests in water and provides strong advice to inform discussions between iwi and the Crown.

“Ministers cannot and must not sideline this report. Forty percent of Aotearoa is in the Ngāi Tahu takiwā and over 75 percent of the country’s irrigation area is in Canterbury and Otago, where there is a crisis. The Crown has a legal duty to recognise and provide for Ngāi Tahu rights and interests in this taonga.

“We agree with the Tribunal’s statements that the Resource Management Act is not Treaty compliant. We also agree with the need for Māori to have greater participation in management and decision-making.

“Ngāi Tahu have been working for a number of years on freshwater issues and we have a range of advanced solutions that go beyond allocation and representative models.

“We are positioned to make a valuable contribution and to provide fair and durable solutions, which acknowledge a resource that is precious and fundamental to everyone living in the South Island and throughout Aotearoa.”

Ms Tumahai says Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu needs more information about how the recommendations will be implemented in practice, and will continue to focus on ensuring iwi participation is acknowledged as a clear priority for progressing freshwater management.

“The next step for us is to discuss this report’s recommendations – and broader freshwater concerns – directly with the Crown. Given how much of New Zealand’s freshwater sits solely within our takiwā, we need to have a clear process of engagement with the Crown directly as our Treaty partner.”