Peter Dunne quoted:
While Maori do have rights with respect to water interests, they are not, nor can ever be, exclusive rights. Were they to be so, the logical conclusion must be that all New Zealand’s natural resources are owned by Maori, a claim that has long been rejected.
As with the foreshore and seabed, natural resources like air and water belong to all New Zealanders, and it is the Crown’s responsibility to exercise that ownership equally and fairly on our behalf.
Where customary usage can be established, then it would be appropriate to negotiate a particular settlement in each instance, again in a manner similar to the provisions of the foreshore and seabed legislation.
UnitedFuture long promoted the public domain solution for the foreshore and seabed, which was finally enshrined in the 2010 legislation. The same principle ought to be followed in respect of the current water rights debate.