I am assuming the Maori Council want to ring Mark Solomon’s neck.
Mark Solomon is the head of Ngai Tahu, which is the South Island’s most successful tribe.
They’ve taken their settlement money and done brilliantly with it. They are a major player in business and a very good example of what the treaty settlement process was supposed to be all about.
Get in. Get the money and apology and get on with it.
Anyway, Solomon says over the weekend that the Government selling off the power companies, in his case the southern producer Meridian, would have no effect whatsoever on Ngai Tahu’s interests and rights in water.
This for the Maori Council must have been a proverbial smack in the head.
Given that’s exactly what they’re allegedly off to court to do, the best of all possible worlds is:
1. They wake up and realise they’re on a hiding to nothing and flag it.
2. Work out they haven’t got the money to pay the lawyers.
Either way, Solomon’s comments must be a massive boost for the Crown because Solomon is basically backing up what the Government has said all along.
You can sell the things and still give Maori their rights and access. Which then leads us to the next very important question and one that’s been asked a number of times with no real answer – Just who is it that the Maori Council represents?
Can’t be Ngai Tahu, given they’re saying the exact opposite. Then you have the Bill English line that he’s meeting with Maori all the time who are A) Saying that the council doesn’t represent them and B) They actually want a slice of the action when the Government sells.
So, it’s one thing for someone like the Waitangi Tribunal to offer up theories and advice on what the Government can do. But courts are different and the Maori Council might just find themselves struggling to mount a decent argument in front of the judges.
And Hosking reckons that the Government is on solid ground here; read on:
And that’s before you get to the bit where the Government, who aren’t idiots, got some pretty sound advice at the start of this that if they sent Bill English around the country for a few meetings this can constitute ‘consultation’ and thus improves their chances.
So they can go to court and argue that:
1. They have a right to sell.
2. Still recognise Maori’s rights to water, given the largest tribe in the South Island say they can.
That sounds like a pretty reasonable argument doesn’t it?
So having done all that, they can finally get on with the business of actually floating the things. The next hurdle is convincing the rest of us it’s a good idea, given at the start of this you’ll remember there wasn’t a poll in sight that had any level of great support for it.
The Prime Minister’s argument is that once it’s underway we’ll all change our mind and embrace it.
Time will tell. But on the Maori front Mr Solomon has done them no end of good.
We agree wholeheartedly with Mike Hosking's viewpoint as expressed here. The Waitangi Tribunal's recommendation to the Crown was exactly that; a recommendation, and nothing more.
In the meantime, the first skirmishes are taking place in the High Court today. It is a fascinating battle, and although we know little of the legal niceties, mere bush lawyers that we are, it will be interested to see whether the legal advice given to the Government has been on the money.
National campaigned strongly on the Mixed Ownership Model. Labour and the Greens campaigned even more strongly against it. That John Key has a mandate to implement the policies of the government he was able to form cannot be argued.
UPDATE: In the time since when we prepared this post until just now, the Government has deferred the signing of an Order-in-Council until after a High Court hearing in late November. That's a sensible and pragmatic decision, exhibiting a measure of good faith.