Extorting water rights rort wrong

The Maori claim with the Waitangi Tribunal for water rights may have some valid legal basis, or may not.

But the timing of the claim makes it difficult to avoid the perception of cynical extortion, of trying to force the Government to give some people preferential treatment with the sale of MOM asset share floats.

Who owns water?

Water, like air, is one of the basic components of life. It circulates and cycles around the world, in oceans and land-based waterways and throughout the atmosphere. Rain that falls here came from an ocean somewhere else. Rain doesn’t belong anywhere.

Water can be contained temporarily. It can be consumed, it’s gravitational power can be harnessed. But water doesn’t belong in any one place, it didn’t come from any one place.

Water is a fliud, global resource. We borrow water that falls as rain. Then we give it back.

What if Maori can claim a legal right to water?

If Maori can claim watre rights through the Waitangi Trbunal and get that supported in our courts then it has to be dealt with.

If they do get awarded water rights it could be very complicated. When would water ownership be assigned. As soon as water vapour arrives over territorial waters? Over the coastline? At point of impact of rain? How would that be measured?

It should be a separate issue

Regardless, if this is a valid Waitangi tribunal claim it should be dealt with like any other claim, on it’s own merits.

It should not be used as leverage on one specific policy as an attempt to get financial advantage over others.

If monetary compensation is award for water rights it should be done separately. Then the recipients can use that money as they see fit, and can line up to buy shares like everyone else.

A bridge too far?

Is this attempt to take advantage of the sale of shares in assets a step too far? Too cheeky, too blatant, too cynical, too greedy?

Possibly. Public action and reaction may have a say.

Water rights and wrongs too important

The water rights issue is too important and wide reaching to get tied to the contentious issue of yesterday.

Will political leaders and parties address water rights? Or will they be cynical too and use this as yet another asset sales political football?

Who’ll stop the rain?

Long as I remember the rain been comin’ down
Clouds of mystery pourin’ confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages tryin’ to find the sun.
And I wonder still I wonder who’ll stop the rain.

– John Fogerty


  1. Water ownership, in the legal sense of rivers, lakes or other ways would be too hard to pin down because who owns the point of source of water? That is where the original source of outflow originates?

    I believe God owns the water – we better deal with Him first. I am a little uncomfortable about this issue except if it is in the national interest, and is of strategic value which as an asset, it is because we need it to live.

    The other concern is the Exploitation of water for Profit. Now, here is the centre piece of any debate about water rights: If we need water to survive, should we commodify it for others to buy in order to survive? NO.

  2. John Key brought this issue up, by insisting on divesting the hand of the state. Maori, in many very many instances, have, by concluding the treaty settlement process with the Crown, in fact donated the land back to the Crown on the condition that it remain in the collective good for perpetuity. By continuing this process to its ultimate destination, the Government may in fact have put all settlements where this “redonation” happened at risk, as the various iwi are convinced their agreement is not being honoured.

    To speak of this as a money grab by the Maori Council does seem pretty presumptuous, I guess we will only know that for sure if in fact they do deal over this issue. I suspect that they wont, this isn’t the Iwi Leadership Group (or Maori Party) remember – they actually have principles that they stick by. However, it is absolutely the case that John Key has tried to wedge opponents of the sales here – however I really doubt any sincere opponent of “Maori entitlement” would consider the blocking of asset sales a bad outcome.

  3. Neil

     /  July 12, 2012

    Water is of course a very vital natural resource which is having its existence only on our planet. But, the sad part is that we are seeing this resource as taken for granted. We are not aware of the importance of water and wasting it unnecessarily. This will lead to water scarcity in future for sure, which subsequently affect life on earth. So, to avoid any such crisis save water as much as you can.

  4. robertguyton

     /  July 12, 2012

    “Long as I remember the rain been comin’ down
    Clouds of mystery pourin’ confusion on the ground.
    Good men through the ages tryin’ to find the sun.
    And I wonder still I wonder who’ll stop the rain.”

    Hippy talk.

  5. Neil

     /  December 6, 2012

    You can’t decide ownership of water by some boundaries. It is a kind of thing for which everyone is having equal right. Also, you can’t deny the fact which Neil has raised that water scarcity can be a big problem in coming days. I want add one more thing excess of water is also very dangerous. Till water is in boundary or in limit it seems good, but as it crosses that boundary it may become reason of some big disasters. There are many water damaged properties around us, which tells a story of the damage caused by this essential resource.