Duncan Garner: One race in New Zealand must never own the water over another race

Opinion 29/08/2019

The members of the Waitangi Tribunal that sit in high office and report on past grievances have got vocal, but I wonder if they're out of control and too busy saying 'tut-tut, you Pākehā decision-makers are running roughshod over Māori at every level of New Zealand society'.

You see, the latest 600-page report pans successive governments for the way they have treated iwi over freshwater.

Water is the lifeblood for us all but, apparently, it's so important for Māori because they use it to bathe in and they use it to collect kai.

Pākehā use it for that purpose too, and most other races, actually, I think all of them. 

But read this report and you're told Māori are sidelined in the political process of managing water.

They have no tino rangatiratanga or sovereignty over water. And, the most controversial finding, Māori have a genuine property right over water - that they should be able to gain in an economic sense, too.

No, no, no, no, no. One race in New Zealand must never own the water over another race.

It's just wrong.

It goes further. The system is set up against Māori, it needs to change to accommodate Māori, the list goes on, but basically, they are shut out of decision making when it comes to freshwater in New Zealand.

I'm not sure it's as bad as that, but something has to change.

Here's what I say must happen, co-manage it. Māori and Pākehā side-by-side.

This Government must reject the hyperbole and say no one owns the water. We all use it. Now, that doesn't mean there can't be a price on water for commercial use, that's fair, but not for recreation. Not now, not ever. Thank the Lord or whoever is in high office today that these reports are not binding.

Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show.