"Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples has called for the issues of water ownership and water management to be debated at the local and national level.
"Local hapu and iwi need to be full participants in decisions on water management in their areas," he said, "and water ownership issues need to be allowed to come on to the local and national agenda.
"We must be there at the table to ensure our rights and interests in water management and any other mechanisms to deal with our natural resources are articulated, and more importantly are heard."Too often essentials like water get co-opted into the general area and the rights of indigenous maori are forgotten.
"Dr Sharples also pointed to a Chilean Supreme Court decision last month in favour of indigenous water rights against a company seeking to bottle freshwater from a source used by Aymara Indians.
Dr Sharples said at the heart of the Chilean case was the centrality of community water rights and the value of water as a vital resource fundamental to every aspect of life."Community water rights to protect our water for everyone, and not just sell it off to the lowest bidder so one or two people can make money by exploiting the water and all of us.
"Just as with Maori, the rivers and streams are the lifeblood of the people, the essence of life."
Like other indigenous people, Maori felt an obligation to those who had gone before and those who followed, "to take due care of the rights, interests and responsibilities we share collectively in water"."FOR EVERYONE
"Dr Sharples said after his speech that by water "ownership" he was not talking about title but about "the coming together of two different world views, reconciling with each other, two different political systems - the Maori one, the parliamentary one - coming together to work out kaitiakitanga [guardianship], management, whatever.
"I don't see ownership as a one-concept thing at all."Reconcilling two world views - we have to do this. And notice that both world views must be considered - not the fake consideration often given to tangata whenua rights. A meeting of two equally valid and important world views. Coming together - listen to this NZ - this is the way to heal and give maori the rights and respect they deserve and desire. Good speech Pita.