Maori struggle for recognition of rights to water and geothermal resources

Exterior of 100MW geothermal power plant of Mighty River Power at Kawerau, New Zealand (source: Wikimedia/ creative commons)
Alexander Richter 19 Dec 2012

Maori groups have won right to appeal a court's decision that said it could not hinder the government to change ownership structures of state-owned energy companies as part of a planned privatization.

The struggle of the Maori Council in New Zealand continues. As part of the New Zealand government’s plan to partially privatize companies, among them Mighty River Power, indigenous people have claimed an unclear determination of water rights to be cleared before any sale will take place.

Now the council has won a right to challenge the government’s plan to privatize the government owned energy companies, among them stakes of up to 49 percent of geothermal player Mighty River Power.

The sale – so the claim by the Maori groups – could prove to be unlawful as so far Maori claims to water and geothermal resources have not been addressed.

So while the legal struggle continues, the current ruling only allows the appeal to an earlier decision to be heard but does not support the actual claim.

In a statement by the government, it is said that it believes the court’s earlier decision that it cannot review the parliament’s decision to change ownership models will stand.

Source: Bloomberg