Water Law

a new statute for a new standard of mauri for fresh water


  • Betsan Martin




new statute, fresh water, freshwater commission, hapü, Mäori, mauri, precautionary principle, internalise costs and impacts, shared authority, te Tiriti o Waitangi, legal plurality


A new statute for fresh water has been proposed by the New Zealand Mäori Council to give legal stature to water as elemental to life. This would remove fresh water from governance through the RMA, where it is managed as one among many resources. A new law would also remove water from neo-liberal settings and the wider context of commercial interests that have pervaded the interpretation of the RMA. An independent Freshwater Commission would be the centrepiece of the regime, with iwi/Mäori representatives included as commissioners. Mauri is proposed as the standard for water quality, and allocation and commercial use to be accommodated within this standard of ecosystem health. New water councils at catchment and rohe levels would engage hapü interests and have implementation responsibilities. This is a vision with pathways for facing challenging issues that have escaped resolution: Mäori rights and interests, equity of allocation and wider public good interests.


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