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Dr Muriel Newman

The Politics of Fresh Water Reform

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JK-HC-DBLove him or hate him, John Key is one of New Zealand’s most successful Prime Ministers. Whether he becomes New Zealand’s longest serving PM remains to be seen. But his poll ratings have remained high, and to date, he has managed the high-wire act of governing in an MMP environment adeptly.

Sometimes, however, latent issues of deep public concern can escalate into ‘tipping points’ that turn people against a government and test a PM’s courage and leadership.

We saw this during Helen Clark’s second term as Prime Minister, when public disquiet about racial division began to soar as a result of perceived Treaty of Waitangi settlement excesses and Labour’s separatist ‘Closing the Gaps’ strategy.

A speech by then National Party Leader Don Brash calling for unity and one law for all tapped into that unease, boosting the party’s support to within a whisker of winning the general election.

Helen Clark responded decisively by axing Closing the Gaps and signalling a deadline for lodging historic Treaty claims. While Labour retained power in the 2005 election, their popularity was in decline.

When John Key became Prime Minister he reached out to bring the Maori Party into his coalition. A condition of that deal was preferential access for Iwi Leaders to Cabinet Ministers. Over the years they have met regularly, to discuss matters of mutual interest including the reforms of the Resource Management Act and freshwater management.

But the Prime Minister now has a problem. There is a growing perception that he and his Party have become captured by powerful corporate tribal interests who want nothing less than co-governance of the country. In a society based on democracy and the Rule of Law, any politician who elevates one group above all others risks an electoral backlash.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, Peter Shirtcliffe, a well known businessman who led the campaign for ‘better government’ against MMP in the nineties, believes most New Zealanders are deeply committed to equality and strongly opposed to any notion of ‘unearned privilege’:

“Regrettably, there is a numerically small but vocal group of Maori leaders who have worked hard over many years to use their cultural background to argue for racially-based preference in economic and governance matters. This is dangerous stuff – preference granted on the basis of race, religion or other cultural affiliation leads to unearned privilege, unearned status, unearned profits and corruption.

“There are increasing political forces at work pushing a racial agenda in our economic and governance environment. The RMA proposals, including vital issues such as how we deal with freshwater come readily to mind. The Government is being lily-livered in not dealing openly with this preference issue. In the case of fresh water, it would like to devolve the responsibility for dealing with race-based water claims to Local Authorities, who are ill-equipped to deal with well-orchestrated tribal grabs for Unearned Privilege.”

In his article Peter quotes the former US Supreme Court Justice Scalia, who had this to say about racial preference: “To pursue the concept of racial entitlement – even for the most admirable and benign purposes – is to reinforce and preserve for future mischief the way of thinking that produced race slavery, race privilege and race hatred. In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American.”

New Zealand leaders need to emulate his thinking.

Indeed, it is ironic, that the Party that stood for one law for all under Don Brash is now planning to confer ‘unearned privilege’ onto powerful tribal bosses in the form of race-based rights over the crucial public resource of fresh water.

Such is the level of disquiet over this, that last week the government embarked on a charm offensive, writing the following pro-forma message to anyone who had contacted National MPs to express concerns about the tribal control of fresh water:

Dear <Name>

I previously received a letter from you about your concerns on policy being developed on improving New Zealand’s management of freshwater. I indicated that we were having discussions with a wide range of interests through the Land and Water Forum and iwi leaders. I also gave commitments that any proposals for reform would be subject to public consultation.

Please find a copy of these proposals in ‘Next steps for freshwater’ at: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/fresh-water/next-steps-fresh-water-consultation-document

We would welcome your feedback by 22 April, or you may wish to participate in one of the 10 public meetings we are holding across New Zealand to discuss the proposals.

I hope you are satisfied that these proposals do not do as some extreme groups had alleged. These proposals are consistent with Government policy that no one owns the water and that it needs to be managed for the benefit of all New Zealanders. We welcome your feedback and input so we can make sensible improvements in how we manage our lakes, rivers and aquifers.

Yours sincerely
Hon Dr Nick Smith
Minister for the Environment

Perhaps the Minister believes the NZCPR is one of the “extreme groups” he refers to.

Last year we launched a nation-wide public information newspaper advertising campaign to draw New Zealanders’ attention to National’s plan for the race-based control of the country’s fresh water. While the government had been discussing with Maori leaders how to facilitate such a major change for years, the public had been kept in the dark.

The radical race-based proposals in Dr Smith’s consultation paper, confirm the validity of our concerns. You can read our analysis of those policies in our article Submissions Open on Controversial Water Reform Proposals.

If National goes ahead and introduces the race-based control of fresh water, it will be the only government in New Zealand’s history to accept that tribal claims for the ownership of fresh water are legitimate. All previous governments have rejected such repeated demands as opportunistic.

So what actual ‘evidence’ of tribal ownership of water is National relying on?

The Waitangi Tribunal’s 2012 report on the Maori fresh water claim outlines the 12 ‘indicia’ accepted as ‘proof’ of ownership on page 32:

– The water resource has been relied upon as a source of food
– The water resource has been relied upon as a source of textiles or other materials
– The water resource has been relied upon for travel or trade
– The water resource has been used in the rituals central to the spiritual life of the
hapu (sub-tribe)
– The water resource has a mauri (life force)
– The water resource is celebrated or referred to in waiata [songs]
– The water resource is celebrated or referred to in whakatauki [proverbs]
– The people have identified taniwha [monsters] as residing in the water resource
– The people have exercised kaitiakitanga [guardianship] over the water resource
– The people have exercised mana [authority] or rangatiratanga [ownership] over the
water resource
– Whakapapa [genealogy] identifies a cosmological connexion with the water resource
– There is a continuing recognised claim to land or territory in which the resource is
situated, and title has been maintained to ‘some, if not all, of the land on (or below)
which the water resource sits’

David Round, a Law Lecturer at Canterbury University has examined these and concludes, “the arguments of the Waitangi Tribunal are rubbish ~ a mixture of uncritical gullibility, mumbo-jumbo, racism and illogic, all fortified by inbuilt bias. These twelve ‘indicia’ are stupid. They establish beyond reasonable doubt the intellectual bankruptcy of the Tribunal. Yet this body of highly-paid Maori lobbyists masquerading as an impartial tribunal considers them adequate arguments.”

It is no wonder that successive governments have rejected tribal claims for water as being without substance. So what has changed – why is National now accepting that ‘taniwha’ represent a legitimate proof that Maori have ‘rights and interests’ in water?

The truth – as a memo issued by the Waitangi Tribunal explains – is that the race-based control of water is part of a deal that National did with tribal leaders in 2012 to ease the way for the partial privatisation of State-owned power companies.

In February 2012, the Maori Council lodged two urgent claims with the Waitangi Tribunal, over the sale of the electricity generators and the ownership of water. They explained that since government policy had consistently denied Maori ‘rights to water’, National’s partial privatisation of the power companies offered a new opportunity for compensation: “Although such rights had been identified in previous Waitangi Tribunal inquiries, the Crown’s settlement policy refuses recognition of those rights, and therefore redress or compensation in relation to them. Given the possibility that the law may never recognise Maori proprietary rights in water or geothermal resources, the claimants view is that shares in the power companies are a reasonable proxy for the commercial and economic aspect of that ownership, which they believe should be returned to them.”

With the government anxious to prevent a public dispute over the ownership of water from undermining the share sale process, their approach to Maori demands for water changed. Instead of denying that such rights exist – as all previous governments had done – National began to appease the Maori rent seekers.

The Maori Council issued three demands for the recognition of their water rights: power company shares; “modern water rights” involving “the establishment of a new water control regime under which Maori have power to issue water permits (becoming in effect the consent authorities) or may be allocated water permits which they could lease on to power-generating companies; a “royalty regime under which Maori were paid royalties for the use of water”.

While tribal share allocations were rejected, in the Maori Council’s Supreme Court appeal, the Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged, that not only would the government closely involve Iwi Leaders in the fresh water policy-making process, but that the recognition of tribal rights “may include decision-making roles in relation to care, protection, use, access and allocation, and/or charges or rentals for use” of water.

These are shocking developments. There is no legal justification for race-based rights to water. Just as no-one owns the rain, no-one owns fresh water in New Zealand – irrespective of who owns the land over which the water flows.

National’s attempt to impose the race-based control of water through their reform proposals can now be seen as political expediency of the worst kind. Their plan to require local authorities to determine the exact nature of tribal rights on a catchment by catchment basis – to avoid the inevitable political fallout – is both devious and despicable.

If National introduces the race-based control of fresh water, John Key will risk the same electoral backlash that dogged Helen Clark’s Labour Government. This time it will be Winston Peters – who believes race-based rights are a rort – who will benefit.

The Prime Minister needs to step up as a leader of all New Zealanders and reject tribal control of fresh water.

After all, the latest Crown memo, written just last week to update the Waitangi Tribunal on the progress of fresh water reforms, clearly states that while proposals for the tribal control of water have been outlined in the government’s consultation document, they have not yet been approved by Cabinet: “The Crown has not reached a decision about the reforms, if any, that it will ultimately propose or implement.”

This means that all proposals for the race-based control of water should be strongly opposed by the New Zealand public – through messages to MPs and councillors, letters to newspapers, posts on social media, and most importantly, through sending submissions before the April 22nd deadline to watersubmissions@mfe.govt.nz.

Submissions do not have to be complex, just as long as they reject all provisions that provide separate rights based on race. Full submission details can be found HERE – and the timetable of public meetings HERE.

With Maori leaders already calling for iwi submissions in support of tribal control of water, it is imperative that the government hears the opposing view – loud and clear. They must be left in no doubt that the public is overwhelmingly opposed to the race-based control of New Zealand’s fresh water resource.


Do you think National will lose public support if they go ahead with the race-based control of fresh water? 


*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.

Click to view x 120


This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and could cost them an election that they have a good chance of winning. Laurie
No, because as other polls show, racial division is not a major cause for concern amongst voters. John Key knows that provided that the progress towards apartheid continues at the present rate the popularity of his government and his own popularity will remain unaffected. John
Very quickly. Barry
I am deeply concerned by what is happening – moving towards giving iwi rights and control over fresh water. Sylvia
The dishonesty goes on. Lance
Race based politics in a multicultural society are racist. Keith
“We reap what we sow” and the fact that we accepted MMP when given the opportunity for change meant that any minor party with a seat had the opportunity to hold the government to ransom over the most ridiculous and superstitious claims. If Labour and/or Winston had any mettle they could support the government in putting an end to these covetous racist claims. Bruce
The treaty promised maori that they would have the same rights and would be treated the same as non-maori.. It did not say they should be privaleged. Entitling maori is a breach of the treaty. Ken
They certainly should do. We are down to Govt by stealth and deceit. Craig
The government is treading a dangerous path by even considering this, the control of our water should not go out of government hands. Carolyn
About time there is only 1 class of citizen whether it is black, white, brown or yellow. Rodney
I hope so.  But the problem is that a large number of NZ citizens are totally apolitical and do not have a understanding of the deeper implications of what is at stake here. Surely we have a lot of discontented people but when talking to them their concerns are expressed in a rather superficial way without any more substantiated information. One reason for that is that political information is largely withheld from the general public and gets to know details when decisions are made and about to be implemented. I said many times that a true democracy can only be run by referendum and involving the population politically.It can be done as this shining example Switzerland has shown us for the past 600 plus years. Michael
Practically everyone I discuss this issue with agrees with this precept. Alan
They will lose 4 votes in my family…. Don
And he will lose mine and Ive been a member of the Nats for years Colin
Absolutely! J Ingram
Sadly by losing support, it could give it to Labour and that would be worse. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Oh well, I giuess there is always NZ First.. At least Winnie won’t cower down to the racists. Graeme
Surely there are many National voters out there who see how this is so wrong and will not vote for National next year. Lyn
We need an uprising such as in the USA at the moment against any racial preference or Maori mumbo-jumbo, then a voter revolt against National if they go ahead with race-based control of water. Monica
Not only will they loose support they will be history. John Key is mad if he thinks this situation will be accepted by the New Zealand people. I along with all my contacts will vote foe Winston Peters who is he only one with the wit to see the stupidity in such a move. John
I hope it happens, actually I hope they come to their senses and reject race control of water. Fraser
This Government are becoming dictators. They are out of control. What with the flag referendum (a waste of public money) and Auckland being made a super city which the majority of Auckland did not want and now the water issue we need a change of Government now. I have voted National for most of my life but definitely not now. Jan
The is intense anger from many about the establishment’s ongoing and increasing disregard for basic New Zealander’s rights. From water rights to the fiasco of the emission trading scheme. Just below the surface is enough anger to have significant political affect. Look at what is happening in the USA. Michael
I just can’t get my head around what Maori have over our politicians, there is not one politician that I know of that will dare stand up to these rediculous claims by these racist clowns. I for one are done with National and their racist agenda. Stevo
Absolutely! More separatism. Every culture needs water for life. Mark
National’s underhand distribution of NZ natural resources to a totally unelected and unaccountable race based minority flies in the face of democratic principles. ” He who rides on the back of the tiger ends up inside.” Bernie
I will one won’t give them my electorate vote and will continue to give ACT my party vote. Over 20 years ago I met a Maori on the interisland ferry who said they should burn the Treaty on Waitangi as it will be the bigger cause of division between the races in New Zealand. How Right he was!! . I for one am absolutely sick to death of Maori claims for many dubious so called wrongs from the distant past. Colin
Apartheid! Peter
Haven’t Maori had enough hand outs from the government. Time for the govt. to say enough is enough. Barbara
Lose support…….they can kiss goodbye to the Treasurary Benches for the next 50 years if they persist with this race based nonsense. I never ever thought I would say this but if Key persists with this gutless charade I will be voting for Winston. He is the only politician in the country who hasthe courage to stand up to this sell out. Ronmac
Helen Clark gave Maori a say in environment issues in the Waikato. What it meant was that if you even want to put a garden shed up you have to pay Maori before you can get Council permits. money did not trickle down to the Maori who need it and the Mori King is a laughable figure head whospendins his time drinking and gambling. Pat
They will lose my vote for life. Peter
The general public are fickle and can’t see John Key doing anything wrong. God save New Zealand!! Sue
Water is for everyone. Clark
Racism Shonkey has sold kiwis out to Racist minority minority group. This is unbelievable when you consider so many kiwis gave their lives in two world wars to fight for democracy and now with the stroke of a pen the National government have treated them with contempt. Key will be out next election but the problem is the damage has been done. I have voted National all my life but that’s it for me . I have emailed my local MP Alastair Spineless Scott and asked him many curly questions, but now he will not even reply to my emails . Greg
Water is for all to use responsibly. Robert
Water is the source of life for all living creature. As such it should never be allowed to be controlled (owned) by any person, group, tribe or ethnicity. Ownership, control & upkeep should only happen through good Government management. Nick
They certainly won’t get my vote if they go ahead with race-based control of fresh water. Winifred
This government seems to be brain dead when it comes to caving in to maori demands. I would gladly become a proud Australian tomorrow. They wouldnt put up with this bullshit. … or even dream of changing their flag ! They have pride in their country … I have NONE in NZ. Des
National are committing political suicide if they allow Maori control of fresh water supplies. This will be the end of the road for Key and his gang. Steve
Key is losing the plot. He seems to be falling under the weight of too long in power………….. “power corrupts & absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Paul
I am shocked that John Key would sell the majority of Kiwis down the river with race based legislation. Bob
Unfortunately not everybody knows what is going on. As for me, they lost my vote years ago when the treaty gravy train included vast amounts of cash and apologies for something I had nothing to do with. Ray
Why hasn’t Winston Peters got more involved in this proposed policy, he should be making a mark in the sand, he of all people could make the deference in the outcome by working with government? Shane
We all, jointly and severally, own our water. Ross
They would deserve to lose support. Mark
Water is an un-owned commodity just as air, sunshine and all naturally occurring elements are. For Maori to presume some sort of ownership over these things displays both power and money grabbing insanity. Peter
Many people, myself included, think that there would be some loss of support for the government if race-based water control is introduced. That said, there are many bleeding heart liberals in this country who would not object to such a proposal. The question is, how many do they number? Does anyone know the answer? Peter
Most thinking New Zealanders see these proposals as a form of creeping a partied which nobody wants. I once thought that John Key was the man to tell the greedy Maori to stuff off with their race based ideas and join in with all Nz’ers to form one harmonious nation. As long as we pander to their silly notions (re: the 12 reasons) we shall never be one nation. Derek
This should NOT be happening, it’s a disgrace. William
Water belongs to all, how much of this rubbish do we have to put up with. Ross
To govern is to govern. If your actions are dictated by possible support or the loss of it, then you are not governing. In this case they rightly should lose public support. I just hope the public is informed. Wouter
I doubt that the wider public is sufficiently aware of what is going on. There are plenty of smoke screens. Can OIA requests elicit what Govt and Maori are saying to one another? Trevor
Hopefully they will lose support. Eric
It is divisive and I see Winston Peters capitalizing on it and I never thought I would ever say this but I will give him my vote. National will lose big time. Brett
It would be the beginning of the end of any level of true democracy. Margaret
There is a limit to public tolerance of favours for political support. Simon
We are all New Zealanders and lucky to be here so why must the Maori race think they deserve more than the rest of the immigrants? After all they just took the land without thought of anyone else that were already here. Now they have grabbed all the benefits the Western World had to offer and then think they should take control. Now anyone with a drop of Maori blood claim to be one of them – some born overseas and never having set foot in this country until it looks as if there might be somthing for them. Unfortunately I have relatives like that. Mary
Our family from Way Back have always supported National – should Mr Key hand over water right of ownership to the Maori Ignorant/stirrers, our vote will not go to National. I think also, this will be his last time as PM Our children and friends all think the same, as do many NZers. Elayne
.. and if not, they bl**dy should! This is racism at its finest. What the heck is wrong with our so called ‘leaders’? Maddi
Of course they will, water is the staff of life for all, not for just one group of watered down greedy part maori radicals. James
It’s disgusting that they should even consider it, racial bias is not democratic and is not political correct. Edward
Only if the public are made fully aware of the implications. Jim
Is divide and conquer by race a distraction for the introduction of the New World Order? I can think of no other reason! Phil
If 86% per cent of us think this should go ahead……..an unqualified affirmative. However if only 14.0% of us think it should go ahead…..then it’s stick it where the sun does not shine……. mate. Why??? it would be obvious even to blind Pughs parrot, let alone Tinkerbell. Wiremu
They will lose my vote together with the majority of my friends, family & peers. It will be the 1st time in my 50 adult years of voting in this country. Terry
Equality for all please = no racial based rights thank you. Bill
I voted no but this is because most people are politically unaware of what is happening and/or apathetic about anything until it affects them directly and in this case it will be too late. Dianne
More John Key brown nose, AVARICIOUS MAORI APARTHEID. Welcome to the 4th World. Mark
I have been one who has favoured National’s basic stance over the years, but unless there is a drastic change in the way they deal with this, they have lost my support. Ted
Key’s government lost our vote when they passed the racial seabed act. I wrote to Key and other MP’s on more than one occasion about it, but don’t think they ever read correspondence from constituents. Brash was responsible for getting voters backing National again from a very low position with his one people one law speech, the obvious wishes of National supporters have been ignored with the Key government. MMP is to blame, and National (in Bolger) were responsible for not giving voters a second chance poll on that. The fiasco with Maori activism has allowed a NZ to develop along completely racist lines. much to the horror of most thinking people.. Lorraine
The Maori sovereignty movement has been flying below the radar for many years and it’s unbelievable that they have gained so much ground under a national government. Their aim is to the Lord Cook 1970 decision that Maoris are partners with the government. This means fifty percent of everything. In 37 years of law enforcement I have seen more and more sovereign rights given to Maori and have had the unique position to have had very close contact with the Maori Sovereignty Movement. Government are either completely deceived by what is going on or they have an agenda to have a totally different constitution in this nation. I think the latter is true. Through the government acquiescing to Maori claims. Which took a giant leap forward when they allowed them to sign the Indigenous Peoples treaty at the UN. We now have the law being joined by Maori spiritual beliefs and it floats on a foundation of folklore. Golden example was the Takamore body snatching case still continuing in the courts. The attorney general Chris Findlayson negotiates with Maori and has power to give them land without even consulting the public of NZ. When will New Zealander’s wake up? Governments have created a climate in NZ where you can’t talk about or disagree with Maori claims without being called a racist and everyone backs off. Well I don’t. Dene
I am speechless. Ray
Yes they will, but if history is anything to go by then National will circumvent this particular item from becoming an issue with the general public. Or they will attempt, as all political parties do to modify the subject of freshwater into a racial one ie ‘That Maori have specific rights which will not endanger the freedom of the rest of us’, and secondly, but more to the point, that the apathy of most of the general public will be SO absorbed with the start of the rugby season, to even consider this question. Who is to blame, well we voted in MMP, and both the major parties are now in hock to whatever minor party will support them. No matter at whatever cost to democracy to enable them to govern under a 21st Century Danegeld . We brought in this system, and its undemocratic appointments of nearly half our Representatives as List M.P.’s. The politician players like sportsmen, abide by the rules we have set for them! The solution is simple ‘Get rid of our present MMP electoral system before it destroys us all, and creates a total racial division.’ Eos qui nos in parliamento suffragio populi (The People must elect those who represent us in Parliament). Brian
What, is it with these stunned pack of clowns running the country? Is Key got his brain at half mast or something, does, the National party not realise that they have already lost a good many votes over the flags. Some of nationals politicians have the gall to tell us that Donald Trum, is a idiot and a lunatic. This bloody mob would leave Trump for dead when it comes to making policy in the stupidest vein possible. Sam
One Country One Rule. Len
Sucking up to Maori to retain the government seats is totally racist and undemocratic. Terry
There is no acceptable alternative and this move will be done in such a way that the public will remain ignorant until it is too late. David
I am 76, a strong supporter of John Key and his Team of Parliamentarians, but I am seriously considering my beliefs over this Issue. Though I cannot see myself returning to a Union driven Little and the Labour Party, Winston is looking a lot more like the person/Party I should be supporting, closer to my Values and Beliefs. Merv
Especially being that so much recent and enlightening information is pouring out as to ‘ Descendants of Maori ‘ making the claims!! www.Skeletons in the Cup Board Episode 1,The Red Heads. is online now! Rodney
This proposal is fundamentally undemocratic & against non-Maori New Zealanders. Peter
National are under the influence of utu hence got them by the short and curlies. Keys is a McGuffer by name to get his fame. Robert
Without doubt – lucky “Winnie”. Stuart
This behind doors agreement by Nick Smith and his National party associates is a stab in the back to every New Zealander.  It will only lead to more racial hatred in this country.  Any race based privilege is alien to our democracy and the national party will lose my support in voting and financial if it continues.  Start to negotiate with Winston Peters who has agreed to support National in reforming the r.m.a. if Nick Smith continues with this lie it will have huge repucussions for the national party. Morrie
Water is free for all or should be not owned by any one Race or Creed, Time for all the greedy money grabbing to stop. Laurel
I do not accept John Key’s status as our LEADER.  That makes him a DICTATOR like ADOLF HITLER was. HE IS ONLY OUR SPOKESPERSON AND MUST DO WHAT WE PEOPLE TELL HIM! TO SAY AND DO! Theodorus
“Ownership” or race-based control of fresh water is a nonsense. Check the drops when (if) it next rains. Whose name does each bear? Save some of our cash. Sack the Waitangi Tribunal gangsters. Philip
Was once a National supporter – never again (nor Labour). Neither represent their voters any more – they seem to follow some exterior directives. Bryan
Any party that supports co-management and/or co-governance between those with a claim to Maori heritage and the rest of those person who make up New Zealand citizenry is doing our Country a almost treasonable disservice and should never be granted the reins of Government. Mr Key Please wake up and stir your party into actions that promote unity not separatism. Michael
It would lose more if the media fronted up and publicly debated the issue. Willy
They deserve to lose support – we need to stop all these back room deals in order to move forward as a country. If government is looking out for Maori concerns, who the hell is looking out for mine? Liz
How can Maori claim unearned privilege. David
Absolutely the National Government will lose support. Our PM is really wimping out on this issue and unless he comes out and shows some leadership and puts a halt to these outrageous claims by Maori for control of our freshwater I think his 4th term aspirations will be wanting. Mike
Absolutely. IAN
Political parties are elected into power on their assurances of their policies being in the best interests of all citizens. When the interests of the citizens are not met it is obvious that the governing party will be voted out at the next election. It looks like National have decided to fall on their sword. Dennis
Absolutely no Maori control of our fresh water. Water has no Owners. It is natural resource and is for all. Norm
This is an issue of constitutional importance that could cost the government its ability to win parliamentary control. John
John Key needs to tread very carefully with this issue or it could bite him right on his butt. John
Our whole family would not vote for National should they give control of water to a race based group. This would split the country into a “them” and “us” It would be the most divisive act of any political party. Brian
Regardless what the polls say, he already has. This is the biggest ‘CON’ of the century. Maori are no more indigenous than anyone else born in this land. The Aborigines in Australia are, Maori, NO. Whether Maori like it or not, they all have other ancestry – bad luck. Today’s Maori are disrespecting their Chiefs who signed The Treaty. Fiona
Cloak and dagger stuff – what are National thinking?!!! Peter
They will lose my vote and I have voted National for over 50 years. Peter
They will face a very long sojourn on the opposition benches as far as I am concerned. Jim
Prime Minister John Key needs to step up to the mark and listen for once to the people who voted in him. We all own the water . The Maori have no more rights to owning water than any other people living in this country. The Waitangi Tribunals 2012 report on Maori fresh water claim namely the 12 “indicia” accepted as proof of ownership is a lot of bollocks. David Round hits the nail on the head mumbo – jumbo illogic all fortified by bias naming just a few of his comments. I for one am overwhelmingly opposed to ” Race Based” control of NZ fresh water resource. Wake up National you will with out doubt not win next election if you go with this agenda . Heaven help us if Labour become the next government. Suzanne
Key said NO ONE owns the water and yet they are going to give the control to maori . WHAT A JOKE !! Terry
At their peril. Pam
If Maori have control of water then farmers could sue them for not providing during a drout. Dams would be required to be full at all times or legislative measures would come into being. Bruce
Preference granted on the basis of race, religion or other cultural affiliation. Remember back to when many NZders protested about the Springboks visits. Wonder if SA will do the same when the All Blacks play there next. John
By devolving responsibility to easily influenced local government, National believes it can avoid being blamed. But many will know & remember. Expect the protest vote to grow. It seems Key can’t help himself – he’d sell his grandmother to get a deal over the line. Fiona
Frightening, ridiculous, cowardly. Bad leadership. A sure way to lose the next election. Methinks Finlayson could be behind this possible legislation. Albie
This is possibly the last straw regarding the insidious Maori attempt to gain further power over the wicked Pakeha. To reach a state of unity the treaty must go, all claims have to be settled FINALLY and this nonsense stamped on. Getting rid of MMP to exclude any need for Maori party support would be a logical first step. Donald
Getting the issues publicised will be the problem. Brian
I am sick of giving anything to maori just because they ask for it. Wayne
And they deserve to be run out of office for such lunatic considerations – but they are also being manipulated by powers behind the scene – not just Maori. Russell
This is absolute rubbish as the water comes from the sky and has been here forever long before the maori. We should get over ourselves and them and become NZers. Vivienne
Fresh water rights belong to ALL Kiwis irrespective of their race. Keith
No body owns the water !!! It came from above !!!! Ian
Only if you can get the message out to all people as the Media has not picked this up, they are to scared. Geoff
Ownership of fresh water should not even be a topic for discussion. It belongs to everyone. Jill
No Government should be allowed the right to cede the ownership/governing of New Zealands natural resources to one racial group. All New Zealanders should have absolute rights to fresh water resources. Julie
They must lose support from all thinking kiwis and quite rightly so. Bevin
Deservedly so. Traitors. They are meant to look after us all. Corruption? Peter
The times has come the tide is changing. The notion of two peoples equal sharing must to come to an end otherwise anarchy will become the rule. We must become one people with one law in one nation John
If National go ahead with this idea of giving Maori ANY control over water, they will hand NZ First the treasury benches ON A PLATTER. Athol
Unfortunately the public have been kept in the dark over these negotiations for so long many of the public are still totally unaware of this discussion. Where are the main media in informing the pubic and opening up discussion? Nowhere to be heard or seen. John Key needs to stop taking the easy route to everything…giving in on all fronts and stand up for all New Zealanders. But he won,t….he has been in his ivory tower far too long and forgotten what his job is and who he represents. Gail
My family members will vote for New Zealand First not National as we have done for the pat 40 plus years. We see this promotion of IWI water rights as a divisive separatist action by the National Government. David
Water needs to remain the right of all New Zealanders. Not be racially based. This would be an extremely dangerous situation for New Zealand’s financial and racially based future. Considering that if the Maoris did get control of the water rights they would essentially have control of a huge area of Nzs economy. Think pat s History spells out the rest. The likelihood is that they would then Sell off this asset to the highest bidder. Obviously not in new Zealands best interest. But then they appear to be only thinking of their own races financial best interests. Jude
Why does fresh water have to race-base control. Just leave things as they are. There is always some one wanting control. Maori just want too much control and goverments help them get it. Robert
It shows that they are lily livered and that John Key still earns the right to the name the ‘teflon’ PM. All land/water/air belong to ALL NZer’s we only have the right to occupy for a particular duration. Trixie
What New Zealander, in his right mind, wants race based government decrees? Eric
race based control of freshwater will definitely cost the Govt bigtime !! it is purely buying maori support which is totally unacceptable graeme
Where is our ONE rule for all? David
I certainly hope that National will loose support, what next forbidden to collect and drink rain water for free Kelvin
I’ll be changing my vote if this goes ahead. William
The evidence now clearly shows that when those full-page, pre-Christmas advertisements were run and denied by Shon Key as coming from ‘a bunch of stirrers,’ the government was at that very time knee-deep in negotiations and finalisation of the race-based features of the ‘fresh water reform’ bill. Shon is a liar! Paul
National is holding onto Govt due more to inadequate opposition than to active wise management. only idiocy allows them to use the Maori support to hold their meagre majority. Edgar
I am so sick of these claims based on racial groupings and to lay claim to something as basic as fresh water is beyond absurd. Any government that panders to this outrageous nonsense will not get my support. David
National has already turned me off with their proliferation of racism. Rodney
How can water that comes from rain and snow ever be owned by any one. Someone has to control the use of water, and it has to be the government. It must not benefit just one race, we are all New Zealanders, we are ONE people. Bill
The Government has been very foolish if indeed if they have promised Maoris a say in the control of water in return for selling shares in the Electricity Companies. They will have to find their own way out of that predicament and it isn’t by passing the buck to local councils. Maoris would be delighted if that happened as it is much easier to control dozens of local bodies, each with its own ideas of what’s fair and some of them already influenced by non elected Maori stooges. ‘Divide and conquer.’ Maoris were of course very quick to seize the opportunity to mount that gravy train to control the RMA and grab the fees they can charge for doing nothing and charging applicants huge application fees which will be followed by consumption charges. Gimme, gimme, gimme. The National Government is doomed if they follow through on this. Can’t they see this? Please submit our views on this to the right place next month and have David Round’s views on the Waitangi Tribunal’s summary in dismissal of the 12 points released by the Tribunal as Biased mumbo jumbo showing racism and illogical thought as part of that submission. Chris
If the Government imposes race-based control of water or anything else the reaction against will be enormous. The National Party will be totally damaged, probably permanently. Robin
It would be a mistake for National to think the “Maori” vote, whatever that is, is more important than that of “New Zealanders” in general. Graeme
Seven of the twelve Maori reasons for their claim on fresh water also relate to everyone in New Zealand. New Zealand is based on equal right for everyone. Some times this does not work. But to have a government legislate for one group to have rights over anther is a crime. And should be treated as such! Raymond
No doubt about it. John Key has lost touch with the ordinary people, just as the U.S. politicians, in their smugness, have done. Many National voters will never forgive him if this rort over race-based privilege (both the R.M.A. reform and fresh water reform) goes through, and N.Z. First will be the winner. The next general election could see some real surprises. Graham
Enough to lose the next election. John
It goes against normal logical thinking in most peoples minds. But because it’s so subtle a lot of people won’t notice anything and are none the wiser. But it certainly won’t gain them public support. Andrew
This is absolutely sickening. Time for Key to go, he’s even worse than Helen Clarke, and it seems Maori have this Govt over a barrel. Water is a life line for Everybody and MUST NOT be given to these rascist brown people to control in any way. Time to abolish the whole treaty and treat everyone equal as per the treaty document, and also abolish that Waitangi consortium of rascists who have their noses in the public purse. Grow a backbone Mr Key and tell them to go to hell! Carolyn
Most definitely. Such a claim absolutely undemocratic and rubbish. Joe
National should lose support for this treachery but they won’t. The ACT Party as an alternative is still a very tarnished brand and unpopular. The left of Labour/ Green would be even worse. Most people who tick National don’t care about an issue like this, even if they become aware of it. Peter
Very definitely, we don’t need any more government introduced apartheid. Beryl
Absolutely. John Key will certainly lose my support in his constituency. Michael
All part of John Key’s “maorification” of New Zealand.! Greg
Winston Peters is looking good at this stage. NEIL
Fresh water is not for sale. What will be next? The air we breathe? It is ridiculous that tax payers money is wasted debating this. Politicians should man up and sort this out! Alastair
Given that “maori” includes New Zealanders who have an ancestor from which the blood was undiluted by being mixed with non-maori blood as is now the case with descendants who have a family tree that includes the original ancester where his blood represents less than 50% or a smaller % so that modern so-called maori may have only 8% of the ancestral blood-line diluted by inter-marriage with people who have no maori blood. It then seems an illogicallity that those non-maori ancesters should be discarded in the deciding ownership of water or any other item available in New Zealand and the rights should be transferred to person with some unknown percentage of maori bloood, but certainly less that 50 %. Neil
I met with our local National MP two weeks ago and this was not what he spelt out to me. I am of the opinion water must be an election issue and quite possibly may put Winston in a majority poition. I am very disappointed in National. It is simply not right for all NZers. Paul
Without a shadow of doubt!! David
This is already a major concern with the Waikato River management agreement. Heather
It will give a very strong reason for the regional electorates that now support National to vote for NZ First. This is blatant manipulation of Government Ministers by the Tribal Leaders for personal benefit DON
If this goes ahead, I will seriously think about voting for another party. Sheila
Any special rights based on Race are anathema to most New Zealanders. Government needs the backbone to say “NO” to all such race-based special rights and privileges. Colin
When are our thick politicians going to wake up and do something positive about seperatism and the settlement of The Waitangi Treaty.Thier actions are causing the country to split into a racist money/Power fight. We should all be fighting for our one country one people together not this ownersip Bullshit. Roger
The whole issue is ridiculous. Perhaps non-Maori who own land over which water flows should charge the Maori rent for accommodating their ‘taniwha’. Perhaps also if Maori were to be made responsible for water, they should have to pay for any damage water causes. Both these proposals are equally as stupid as any race based control or access to water. Alan
Idiots if they go ahead with complying with a dreamland demand. John
Because people are tired of supporting the gravy train that maori keep bringing forward, after the water will be the air as strange as this may sound because their spirits float around in the stuff. Best thing NZ could do would be to scrap the so called treaty and make maori work for a change. This would be a far greater benefit for them instead of bludging off the real NZlanders. David
In no circumstances should there be any form of race based control of water! Act has the answers to this problem. Jim
Water usage is for all not just one race! Neil
Nobody owns water full stop no race based control by any party be it gov or local authority. Leo
Fundamentally undemocratic. Russell
I would normally be a National supporter but should National relinquish state control of water; that issue will be the undoing of my support. Gary
Don’t think the average Kiwi understands the implications. Also many Kiwis are “brown washed”. Kay
Need I give a reason!! Chester
I will vote for anyone else if they do this. Keith
There is an old saying “Every dog has his day.” Forbes
And if the answer were ‘no’ they will be voted out in due course. Barry
Sooner or later, a stance needs to be taken against continuing, ridiculous and often unjustified Maori claims. The water issue is just another attempt to seek financial gain or control for the benefit of Maoris primarily. The Waitangi Tribunal is a farce, being so heavily stacked with overpaid, pro-Maori members and always finding in favour of Maori submitters. This mess needs to be cleaned up and a society for all New Zealanders to be created and maintained despite the risk to politicians and their votes!! William
I for one have already made this decision. Such a move on water is unthinkable, undemocratic and unacceptable. For the government to put forward such an idea for discussion defies all reasonable logic. Chris
At least they will lose mine. Ron
I sincerely hope so but what’s the alternative to National? There isn’t one. We are in a cleft stick, and unable to make our point without allowing the possibility of the other rubbishy parties to take over. Helen
I won’t vote for any Govt that give control of water to maori. Bloody bludgers. Jim
Yes, but probably not enough to change their mad ‘race-based’ intentions to give more & more cntrol to Maori interests! Cyril
This is absolute rubbish and one wonders why supposedly intelligent people in Parliament are willing to give credence to inane Maori claims. Geoffrey
Of course they will the water belongs to everyone surely this is just another wedge for minorities to try to take over everything. Peter
They will definately lose the next election. I would vote against them for the 1st time in my life. David
The implication of racially based bias in the management of a resource that is not owned by any one person is un acceptable. Ian
I am a true National supporter and I would be very disappointed if they were to do this. Chris
After being a National supporter most of my life this will be the last straw !!!! When are any of our pathetic politicians going to have the guts to simply say “NO”. I wonder what is going on behind the flag debate — is it a “blind” for something else we should know about — I don’t trust them at all anymore. Alan
It’s time New Zealanders woke up to and opposed the race asked policies National has been pushing. Laurie
Never again in my life will I support a political party with separatist intentions. There WILL be civil war in this country if we continue down this path. We are ALL immigrants to NZ. There were no endemic people here when NZ split from Australia. Lesley
But do we have alternative Political Parties to turn to for support? David
They won’t lose mine, because they don’t have it anyway. Andy
It certainly should but true to form the number of apathetic NZ ers, probably won’t yet be aware it is happening. Besides, rugby and league are both underway now so surely nothing else matters – and we can bury our heads for 2016. !! Frank
Is this issue the beginning of the end for National. John
Who picks up the tabs when flooding and storm damage occurs? Colin
They are certainly going to lose mine. I will vote NZ First if they persist with these stupid racist proposals. Ian
Yes.  How can you support a party that is allowing such undemocratic power to be given to a minority section of our society.It is this sort of thing that creates creates distrust the hatred and then can lead to far more dangerousness outcomes as we see around the world even today. Bryan
To gift maori any control of water will be policital suicide !! Peter
Please Prime Minister , pull back and in every way return to implement your previous statement that “nobody owns water”. Hylton
The water is for ALL New Zealanders. Glenn
It is an outrageous proposal. Jenny
It’s time they woke-up! Brian
We all know that this govt are doing their best to keep the maoris “on side” by passing racialy based policies, to the detriment of the majority population. Freshwater belomgs to no single race, in fact “belongs to “no one” it is a resource provided for all and utilised for the benefit of the whole population. That this govt and the politicians who promote this are clearly racist and do not listen to the majority, only the demanding maoris who pull out the “cultural” and “rights” card. This is a blatant breach of rights of all non maori people of this country. This govt will suffer a large nose dive in support for this and their other racist policies. David
John key said his current term of office would not be one of political arrogance however it seems this is increasingly negated by he and his cronies being out of touch with the “guy on the street”. Such people have had a guts full of their pandering to maori. Don
No matter how smart Key thinks he is, we will be voting for NZ First, Peters to use the power of MMP to get rid of the National Party. We must put a stop to these race based “rorts” that are so crippling the country. Cedric
Unfortunately this Government is poll driven and given the bias of MSM they wont go near this subject so the public will be largely unaware of this appalling racial privilege. Key will do what the polls allow him to do. Dennis
More divisional racially based action,when will the govt wake up and stop racial subdivision? IAN
If most people are fully informed and not kept out as at present. David
I think the average Kiwi has had enough of this nonsense. I am including the average Maori in this comment as well. The perpetrators of this movement are only a amall but powerful minority. Lloyd
Keys and National are intent on committing political suicide. The ground swell on this issue will prove they have undone all their past good for this country. Robyn
Giving any control over water to maori or any other unelected group could spell the end of National. Who could ever again trust them to govern for all electors?? What they’re now proposing with the RMA reforms (so called) will simply add a further layer of complication to the consent process totally without rules, oversight or controls on cost. Alan
I have already told my local National MP that he can kiss my vote goodbye if they give special consideration to Maori over freshwater rights over all other NZers. Murray
1 country, 1 people, when are we ever going to look forward with unity? Steve
Most definately. If anything can divide a nation this will certainly be the trigger.  There is too much undercurrent now which the Government appears to be ignoring. Ron
This has to be stopped the more money these iwi get the more powerful it makes them I can not understand what this government is up to. Digbny
But only the support of those who follow these “rights” issues. Will that be enough? Keith
Certainly hope so-my National MP is very confused about the whole process if his letter to me is anything to go by. He says its part of the settlement of grievances….. Roger
If it is passed, I will not give my Party Vote to National & I urge others to do the same. Alex
The water does not belong to anyone group but to every NZer But John Key thinks he is God’s Gift and will do what he wants because He wants the Maori vote. Cherryl
I am concerned that whilst the Government are adamant that “nobody owns the water” they will allow Maori a significant part in the Management of it, thereby having a degree of control and this could lead to a charge for their management going directly into their coffers. This should be stamped upon immediately.. Peter
They will certainly lose my support. Steve
ABSOLUTELY! Who would vote to support the party that made them second class citizens? Joyce
My support as one will be withdrawn. Ray
I view this possibility as very serious, and while I support National, and have for years this is serious enough for me to give my vote to someone else. Maurice
What a racist country we are becoming Maori have not more rights than any other so why are they as a small part of our community getting the privalages and of that small bass how many are more than 50% Maori as we there have not been any full blooded Maori for many years now As said last week how could two Maori be appointed to ECan with out being elected when they are still under a commissioner. Russell
National support is waning now, already there are under currents of unrest and distrust. The seriously sad situation is there is little alternative. National are already showing signs of third term arrogance. Robert
I’ve always voted National, but if this goes ahead they’l never get another vote from me!!!! What next – the air? Bruce
Just stick to the water “ownership” rules we have at present. Michael
—but the support National will lose will only eventuate over time. Unfortunately the general public are too apathetic to realise what is happening. Meanwhile APARTHEID in NZ continues unabated. Geoff
They are losing my support rapidly. John
Water resource is the life line of ALL New Zealanders. Giving control to More–ee will be like handing over our right to exist! And the government has (quietly) timed this water announcement amidst the boisterous flag debacle. Beware!! Stuart
They have already. John
Very much so, Lets get rid of all this Mumbo-jumbo. Richard
When will this nonsense stop? Mary
Unbelievable stupidity. Donald
Globally freshwater is now at a critical point where a billion of humans are unable to obtain fresh water.Water is being transported across time zones in super tankers to the highest bidder.The N.Z.water issue Is at a tipping point which the current threat based on racist divide is critical to our future. Douglas
I have made a submission against it more people please do the same one country one law when will these claims ever end the answer is never unless we stand up and say enough is enough. Richard
Will be the last time they get my vote if it goes ahead, ridiculous, stand up for all New Zealanders. Steve
It would be very hard to vote National if they should continue with race based politics. What happened to one NZ. Elizabeth
Stop pandering to Maori. No other race gets special treatment like them. Kevin
I am horrified to think the Government is even considering – New Zealand will only move ahead if we are as one Country. Our natural resources should belong to everyone. To me this is another example of reverse racism. Rosalie
It has already, and will continue to do so by pursuing this idiotic policy. I despair! Andrew
They may well loose my support. Graham
Labour is even worse, openly admitting they do anything Maori want. Folkert
Water can not be owned by any single person, it is a national treasure. Colin
Despite the list we all have these benefits and desrve to continue to have them without having some race based nonsense in the wat! Ian
How could they possibly not? I see granting water management rights to Iwi as an act of treason. Why aren’t opposition parties screaming from the ramparts over this? Barry
I am beginning to think that the national party are bending over backwards to placate the Maori vote. Andrew
The public at large is not aware of the concerns over water. Therefore unless it directly affects them or someone they know well this will pass over them. Kevin
Once water becomes a commodity, it’s saleable – and once the lid comes off that Pandora’s Box, it can never be put back on. Jim
National have lost the plot. All kiwi’s should have equal rights in this country, no group should have preference based on race. John Key won’t be prime minister for another term if he continues his current path. Michael
Fed up with race based polices. Jan
I am not sure. The people of this country will wake up when it is too late. The price of power is extreme. Just like Islamic extremists, they are cunning and conniving and will do anything to remain in power. New Zealand is NOT a democracy, it is a hypocrisy! When was the last time we had a referndum on anything – apart from a flag? Kevan
They are on dangerous ground over this issue and will commit political suicide. My only fear is that they will manage to brainwash the apathetic public into believing the reforms are not separatist. Rex
Unbelievable. This notion that some people are more equal than others…. apparently history tteaches us nothing whatsoever. Martin
But what alternative party? Chris
Absolutely! If National gives tribes control of water they will bleed support and Winston will be laughing all the way to the next election. Gordon
National have crossed a line over this race based control of water. They have really lost the plot. Jason
Water is owned by no-one and is controlled by democratically elected local government. That’s the way it should stay. Tony
Surely someone in National still retains common sense and can make Nick Smith, Bill English and John Key understand that they are going too far in appeasing Maori. What they are doing is sickening. Julie
They will definitely lose support, once the public understands what is going on. David