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John Key has trampled on the Waitangi Tribunal, dismissing its views before it has even had a chance to consider Maori water rights, Green Party spokesperson for the Treaty of Waitangi, David Clendon said today.
Mr Key this morning pre-empted the outcome of the Tribunal's consideration of today's urgent hearing on the Maori Council's water claim, saying, "even if the Waitangi Tribunal found Maori hold interests in water the Government would not have to accept the decision."
"Key needs to allow the Tribunal to make its decisions free from political posturing," said Mr Clendon.
"Key's comments that the government could simply ignore a Tribunal decision on the Maori Council's water claim signals his willingness to deny Article Two of the Treaty.
"There is a major unresolved issue about what tino rangatiratanga means in the 21st century, and the Prime Minister's glib comments will inflame rather than inform that debate.
"The 1987 Lands decision acknowledged that Maori have particular rights, and it is disappointing that 25 years later the Council is again obliged to seek a re-statement of those rights.
"The Greens sought clarification during the Mixed Ownership Model debate in the house as to what the Te Tiriti clause in the legislation would mean in practice.
"The Crown held shares are bound by Te Tiriti principles while 49% private interest are not. This results in the removal of Treaty obligations for the power companies and puts the issue of water rights in to question.
"It seems that this Government has no intention of honouring the implied commitment, but will ride roughshod over the principles and generate more grievances.
"Developing models of resource management that allow Maori to exercise their rights and responsibilities as kaitiaki and to have a fair claim to any material benefits may not be easy, but is work that must be done in good faith if future conflict is to be avoided.
"Te Tiriti is valuable to all of us because it protects our collective interests in water," said Mr Clendon.