The Minister of Māori Affairs has called a hui of iwi representatives and claimants to the Waitangi Tribunal on Māori custom and interests in fresh water.
“My hope is that, by coming together to discuss the issues, all groups will be clearer about each other’s thinking, and may be able to find a way to achieve their collective aspirations,” said Dr Sharples.
“Each iwi has its own customs relating to fresh water, and each will follow its own pathway to maintain its mana – and that is fine,” he said.
“The main thing is that each iwi understands the thinking of the others, so they don’t end up in conflict with each other, or jeopardising each other’s position.
“With mutual understanding, the views and the stances of the diverse Māori groups can be aligned in their dealings with the Crown – that is the goal.
“I will be conveying to the Prime Minister the messages from the hui, and the tone of the discussions, so he is clear about the diversity of approaches taken by iwi.
“I hope these issues can be resolved through leadership discussions, so it is not left to the Courts to determine Māori custom.
“Through mutual understanding of each other’s thinking, we may be able to find a way to protect the mana of tangata whenua,” said Dr Sharples.