The first is that of King Tuheitia; Stuff reports:
King Tuheitia said Maori had always owned the water.
When he was a child, children could swim and bathe in the “crystal clear waters” of the Waikato River.
“Today [it] is a degraded body of water. From Ngaruawahia out to the sea you cannot swim or take kai from it.”
Media commentators have painted yesterday's hui as presenting one voice from Maori. But it may not be as simple as that; check this out:
Heading into the hui, there was building momentum for the Crown to give more urgency to recognise Maori rights and interests in water. But there was a far from unified view on whether those interests should be addressed as part of the asset sales debate.
Ngai Tahu chairman Mark Solomon said Maori all agreed on a collaborative approach toward settling water issues.
"From a Ngai Tahu perspective we don't believe the asset sales will affect the rights and interests of Maori from reaching an agreement."
So who is right; King Tuheitia or Mark Solomon from Ngai Tahu? Or are they both right, or even both wrong?
Personally, we believe that Mr Solomon is setting the right example for Maoridom. As a result of its settlements with the Crown, Ngai Tahu is asset-wealthy, and its assets provide employment for many of its people. Ngai Tahu has a strong commercial focus, and has also been innovative in its investments.
And with due respect to King Tuheitia, who was speaking to the gallery yesterday, we do NOT agree that Maori have "always owned the water. There was water here before Maori arrived. Water is transitory; it comes, and it goes. No-one owns it, but it is clearly acknowledged that Maori have rights to use water.
Ngai Tahu's pragmatism and its strategic outlook has allowed the tribe to prosper. Other iwi are still stuck in grievance mode. As we blogged the other day, there will come a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal which is the straw that breaks the camel's back.Will that day come sooner, or later?