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Hon Dr Pita Sharples, Minister of Māori Affairs, has recognised the importance of Monday’s forum in bringing together various representatives across hapū and iwi to discuss their collective aspirations around water.
“Today, on World Indigenous Peoples Day, we reflect on the vital foundation provided by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which our Government signed up to in April 2010. In that Declaration, Article five declares the right of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own unique political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions while retaining their right to participate fully in the life of the State. We saw evidence of this dual role at the Freshwater hui in Wellington on Monday.
“At that hui, over 130 representatives of hapū and iwi leadership, New Zealand Māori Council and WAI 2358 claimants came together to share their positions around Māori rights and interests in fresh water. When you see that number of rangatira/iwi leaders not only coming together, but agreeing to work together in developing a united position, it is extremely heartening.
“The debate was rigorous and passionate – but there was a united focus on exploring the proprietary rights and interests of hapū and iwi in fresh water.
“The preference of iwi leaders, claimants and the Māori Council was for negotiated outcomes. There was also recognition of the need for more robust and ongoing consultation with hapū and iwi in discussing their respective interests in water.
“It was very pleasing to see such a large turnout and to experience the level of collaboration and shared commitment articulated at that forum”.