We're always told the markets like surety, they like to know what's going to happen. So much interest will turn to the remarkable developments in the claim for water by Maori. First a decision in the Paki v. Attorney General case in which the descendants of the owners of five blocks of land along the Waikato River at Pouakani have claimed the Crown acquisition of the riverbed was in breach of the Crown's duties.
Essentially this turns on an interpretation of the river being navigable under s14 of the Coal Mines Amendment Act (1903). Where a stretch of river is not navigable, an enforceable interest to the riverbed might remain in the hands of the Maori customary owners.
Some nice turns of phrase by Mai Chen: The philosopher Heraclitus said that you cannot step into the same river twice. Change is constant. It remains to be seen whether the Government finds the Supreme Court's decision in Paki "navigable".
Venn Young and Eva Rickard
Then the Maori Council takes an urgent case to the Waitangi Tribunal seeking to stop the governments planned sale of State Owned Assets: Mighty River Power, Genesis, Meridian and Solid Energy.
The PM has come out firing:"We don't believe anybody owns water. What we do accept is that people own water rights. We don't think the sale of 49 per cent of Mighty River Power in any way impinges on those water rights."He goes on: "The Waitangi Tribunal's rulings are not binding on the Government, so we could choose to ignore what findings they might have - I'm not saying we would, but we could."
Of course if the Government refuses to act on the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal, the Maori Council could take its case to the High Court.
We're along way from the surety that markets desire. Good job.
Recommended Reading: The Legal Voice of Māori in Freshwater Governance: A Literature Review, by Jacinta Ruru