The Maori Council’s claim over the ownership of New Zealand’s fresh water is a blatant attempt by a powerful political group to seize control of a public good natural resource. New Zealanders are angry about it and so they should be.
The opportunistic endeavours by tribal corporations to seize control of public good resources such as air, wind, the electromagnetic spectrum – maybe even sunlight itself – are outrageous but very real. We should get used to them – there will be many more. Resource control is becoming the central focus of tribal activism, now that the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process is in its final stages.
Any thoughts by the public that the Treaty claims process would become a closed chapter in New Zealand’s history once this round of historic claims have been finalised (the fourth ‘final’ settlement for some of the tribes) is just naïve, wishful thinking. Tribal corporations will continue to push for anything that gullible politicians will give them. And with the iwi leaders group having forged a direct line of communication with government ministers – thanks to the Maori Party’s coalition deal with National – their progress towards becoming an elite governing class with superior rights to all other citizens is progressing at a fast pace.
This new era in Treaty politics will not go away anytime soon unless the advances are strongly challenged by the government on behalf of the New Zealand public. However, instead of questioning the legitimacy of the superior rights already enjoyed by tribal corporations - that give them special advantages over all other New Zealand businesses - our political rulers choose appeasement. But acquiescing to such demands simply makes things worse, as buoyed by their successes, insatiable tribes keep coming back for more.