I heard Te Maire Tau, Upuku of Tuahiwi Marae, speak recently. He spoke of the desire of Ngai Tahu to be the owners of our river beds. I found that thought a really interesting one. We have had significant Ngai Tahu governance presence in this region, especially since the earthquakes. They were written into legislation as partners in the rebuild, and they have been magnificent in their commitment to this process. I fully applaud Gerry Brownlee and his team for writing this into the legislation and honouring it.
We have had two really interesting presentations on Canterbury water from Lan Pham and Alastair Humphrey. They have both pointed to the difficulty of managing the water of Canterbury and the long-term danger of nitrates in the soil leaching into our aquifers over the next 50 to 100 years.
This article this week covered a really interesting decision by the Waitangi Tribunal
I really like what Manu Paul said:
Māori Council member Paul, of Ōhope, says the Government has been like “the stilt that has put his head in the sand”, which only paid attention after advocacy from pressure groups. And now, farmers are having to change their ways – something that would never have been considered 20 years ago.
Māori have a duty to leave a legacy of pristine water quality, he says. “That’s what is driving us – the failure to do that. Without water there is no life.”
He adds: “As each generation goes past, the succeeding generations become more insistent on quality of life rather than quantity of economic profit.”
The tribunal’s report called for a test case to confirm native title to fresh water exists in common law. Paul says his group, known as the Wai 2601 claimants, instructed their lawyers on Tuesday.
He wants to see a national water commission, as suggested by the tribunal, take over the control and management of water, extinguishing existing rights within five years, and returning those rights to Māori.
We will invite Te Maire Tau to speak about his thoughts at a Tuesday Club meeting. Imagine if we had a Canterbury Water Authority which had Ngai Tahu as one of the owners of our rivers. We could get rid of Ecan and pass the rest of its services to Local Authorities and take water away from them. This would return us to the days of the old Catchment Boards, which were ditched in 1989. Water is an issue which needs its own authority.
With our water becoming more and more of an issue it really is time to stand back and say are we managing it in an appropriate manner.
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