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National rejects the proposals for Māori being given an ownership interest in freshwater as proposed by the Waitangi Tribunal report, National’s Crown-Māori Relations spokesperson Nick Smith says.

“National has consistently and sensibly maintained that no one owns freshwater. We urge the Government to reject the more radical recommendations in this report on water ownership. The Government is creating uncertainty and confusion by not clearly ruling out Māori having an ownership interest in freshwater.

“Water is a public resource, like air. Māori have a right to be involved in decision making on freshwater and National provided for that in changes to the Resource Management Act and Treaty Settlements. Transferring ownership or providing a veto to iwi over water is a step too far.

“The confusion in Government over Māori rights to freshwater is a product of the messy coalition. NZ First promised to repeal National’s provisions for iwi participation in water management whereas the Green and Labour parties promised to go further.

“New Zealand is richly blessed with huge freshwater resources with only two per cent extracted for use. A debate over ownership is an unhelpful distraction from the important work to improve freshwater management so as to achieve better water quality and further economic opportunities.”

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