Friday, August 03, 2018

Another bullshit idea

Water is one of the most contentious political issues in the country today. Overextraction is fuelling the polluting dairy industry, while overallocation is pushing the government inexorably towards a traceable permit regime. Meanwhile, the public wants to see foreign water bottlers - and, increasingly, farmers - pay a fair price for their use of a public resource. But solving any of this requires first reaching a settlement with the people who morally own that resource: Māori. Now, the government thinks it finally has a solution. Unfortunately, its another bullshit idea:

Cabinet has been debating the issue ever since and RNZ understands it reached an agreement.

While the government will not pursue any ownership rights for Māori, it will provide capital - most likely through the provincial growth fund - for Māori to develop water storage so they can make better use of under-developed land.

But Ngāpuhi negotiator and senior member of Labour's Māori Council Rudy Taylor said that would not float with iwi.

And no wonder. Compared to the value of the resource, its beads and blankets. But its also something that Federated Farmers wants, not something that iwi want. In the South Island, Ngai Tahu are currently fighting against water storage, because it disturbs their river while encouraging pollution.

I'm boggled that the government would think it was a remotely credible solution. But I guess that's what you're left with when you have NZ First categorically ruling out any real settlement. Which means it'll go to court, and instead of having to give iwi the usual 20% plus co-management (give or take), they may end up having to acknowledge total Māori ownership of freshwater.