Northern hapū express firm control over water rights

By Dean Nathan

Te Mahurehure will take care of their own water.  It’s a statement from the people at a hearing of Waitangi Tribunal in Waima in reply to the continued debate between government and iwi leaders over the issue of water rights. 

Patu Hohepa from Te Mahurehure says, “They do not understand that Te Mahurehure will care for our water.  It’s not for others to usurp our right by saying that they're iwi leaders.”

“For generations we have advised local council and central government that it’s our water and we will make the decisions for it as recognised in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, it is our treasure.”

The hearing is a rare opportunity for local hapū to make presentations on a wide range of treaty related issues.

Mr Hohepa says, “From Ngāti Kaharau on that side of the valley, right over Ngāti Pakau and Ngai Tū Te Auru on that side, it’s an opportunity to lay their issues before this meeting.”

This week also provides an opportunity for cross-examination of historical evidence, alleging Crown actions that dishonoured Māori leaders of this district and being dismissive of any Māori perspective.

Mr Hohepa says, “We're now saying that the stones that sunk below the water representing Māori perspective have started to rise and the cork floating on the water representing the Pākehā perspective continues to float.  But the two must talk to know which is right and that will happen through a full understanding of Te Tiriti.”

Only in time will we understand who owns the water.