The High Court has ruled against the Maori Council's bid
to delay the partial privatisation of Mighty River Power.
Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned Enterprises
Minister Tony Ryall welcomed the High Court's decision,
saying it vindicated their view "that the partial sale of
shares does not in any way affect the Crown's ability to
recognise rights and interests in water, or to provide
redress for genuine Treaty claims".
The Maori Council had argued that the Government should
establish the extent of Maori ownership rights over
freshwater and geothermal resources and make redress for them
before the partial sale of Mighty River and other power
companies under the Government's "mixed ownership model".
Mr Ryall said the Government's share offer programme remained
"If the High Court decision is appealed, we hope this can be
heard as soon as possible."
Maori Council spokeswoman Rahui Katene said the council was
considering Justice Ronald Young's decision.
"The matter has been determined on a narrow legal issue. The
moral issue has still be to addressed in public debate."
Ms Katene said Justice Young had taken the view that the
Government's decision was not one the courts could review.
"The Council's concern is that government has not been
willing to address the issue of indigenous water rights, as
the Court itself noted, and has relied upon statutory
technicalities; but in this instance we think that the view
taken about the statutory framework does not fit with
previous court decisions and we are now working on an
In the summary of his judgement, Justice Young said he was
satisfied that three key decisions by the Government to
advance its asset sales programme, which were challenged by
the council, were not reviewable by the court.
Those decisions included the order-in-council or move to take
Mighty River Power out from under the State Owned Enterprises
Act and into the Public Finance Act to allow the sale.
However Justice Young said even if he was wrong on those
points, the council's case would have failed because when
making each of those decisions the Government would not have
been acting inconsistently with the Treaty of Waitangi.
He also said he was satisfied there was no connection or
"nexus" between the sale of power company shares "and the
need to provide for Maori claims to proprietary interest in
water by way of potential redress or recognition of
- By Adam Bennett