"Let me be clear, Maori have a guardianship, ownership and protection role when it comes to the nations freshwater ways and let me be even clearer - if what has been happening to our freshwater eco-systems and ecology over the last hundred years was working then we would not be a position where we have hundreds of at risk waterways up and down and all around the country." Matthew Tukaki, Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council will tell the National Freshwater Conference in Wellington on Thursday.
"It took Maori to head to the Waitangi Tribunal to prove the case that our people had been left out of the loop or ignored when it came to water in Aotearoa. The truth is we now have deepening problems not just with the state and cleanliness of our waterways but also the allocations granted through local government, the extracting of water by foreign companies, the degradation of our aquifers and more." Tukaki said
"We need to cut this talk of this being an multi intergenerational problem in search of a solution and cut the nonsense when it comes to the message of the decades it will take to sort it out. IN all reality that work needs to start now, we need to set much more ambitious targets and it must be led on partnership with Maori." Tukaki said
"Next week the New Zealand Maori Council will be establishing a national taskforce on water - if it is one thing, we have learnt from the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal Report is its taken too long to get to this stage. The taskforce will be the first stage of what I expect to become a joint working group between Maori and the Crown and will also look at the strongest case for a high court test. IN terms of the latter we are well advanced in that case assessment I expect to be making announcements soon. And everything will be on the table from the High Court test case right through to RMA reform, a much more detailed plan of Maori engagement, allocation rights, ownership and more." Tukaki has said
"For all of those detractors out there who continue to push back against Maori rights and interests I’ll have you know that under our stewardship we had clean waterways - in the more than hundred plus years since its fallen into a heap degradation so much so New Zealands children and families find it hard to swim in our waterways."
A terms of reference will be approved by the Maori Council at a meeting of its National Executive on Thursday evening and membership will be drawn from Maori interest groups, representative organisations, iwi and hapu.