Māori Party Co-leader and Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has today announced her party’s policy on freshwater that will uphold Māori rights and interests and protect and restore waterways from pollution and overallocation.
“The Māori Party will protect and restore freshwater and ensure that the rangatira and kaitiaki rights and interests of tangata whenua are upheld and implemented,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.
“The whakapapa connection between tangata whenua and wai Māori is intrinsic and inextricable. This connection can be legally expressed as proprietary rights, customary rights, and decision-making rights, or put more simply, ownership.
“Successive governments have failed to acknowledge the proprietary rights and interests of whānau, hapū and iwi Māori over freshwater. Rather, they have adopted positions that extinguish those rights and have pursued policies that instead entrench the use rights of commercial industry, who pay little or nothing for the freshwater they use.
“Our priority is to restart negotiations between the Government and hapū and iwi to develop a policy framework on how Māori rights and interests are implemented.
“The Māori Party has also long been concerned about the degradation of freshwater and freshwater habitat, the impact this is having on the health and wellbeing of freshwater taonga species, and the effects this has on tangata whenua and communities in an era of increasing water shortages and the climate crisis.
“We will support the efforts of whānau, hapū and iwi to protect and restore catchments and aquifers by increasing funding, putting a moratorium on new water bottling plants, and developing a commercial user pays policy,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.
In summary, the policy will:
- Overturn the Crown’s position that “everyone owns water” and instead adopt a position that acknowledges Māori proprietary, customary, and decision-making rights and interests to freshwater – nō tātou te wai
- Acknowledge the intrinsic whakapapa of freshwater, and support hapū and iwi to negotiate for those whakapapa rights to be acknowledged in law – te kāwai ki te wai
- Develop a policy framework on how Māori rights and interests are implemented in freshwater management and allocation – te mana whakahaere i te wai
- Substantially increase funding to the Te Mana o te Wai fund to support the efforts of whānau, hapū and iwi to protect and restore catchments and aquifers – te mana o te wai
- Put a moratorium on new consents for water bottling plants, until a new allocation system has been developed – te whakatika i te whakahaere i te wai
- Develop a commercial user pays policy to help ensure fair allocation and support with tangata whenua-led catchment restoration – te mauri whakaora
- Develop an allocation system and undertake significant reform of the RMA to ensure that Māori rights and interests in water are addressed in RMA processes, including decisions on water takes and discharges – te whakaū i te whakatika i te whakahaere i te wai