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Maori claim for wind rights 'insurance' - Rankin

Published: 6:44AM Tuesday September 11, 2012 Source: ONE News

A Northland Maori tribe's spokesman has likened its claim for rights over wind to taking out insurance.

Ngapuhi's David Rankin and two other iwi leaders have lodged a Waitangi Tribunal claim over the commercial use of wind.
It comes after the recent claim by the Maori Council for water rights ahead of the Government's planned partial sale of four state-owned energy companies.

The Ngapuhi claimants say their wind claim is a pre-emptive move ahead of any wind farms being set up in the Northland region.

On TV ONE's Breakfast today, Auckland University of Technology Treaty of Waitangi expert Professor Paul Moon put it to Rankin that Ngapuhi are "claiming for something that hasn't happened".

Rankin responded: "Well, you know, why do you get insurance?"

Asked by Breakfast host Rawdon Christie if the claim is "piggy backing" off the water rights issue, Rankin said "water and wind go hand in hand" as they are both resources.

He said the wind issue has only come to a head for Ngapuhi since Prime Minister John Key has made the decision to sell up to 49% of the power companies.

"If all revenue was going into the coffers for the taxpayers of this country it's not a problem. That supports all of us, it's for all of us. But once you privatise a state asset then you have a problem," Rankin said.

But Moon said water and wind are quite different in this situation.

"Wind is a public good. So use by one group doesn't deplete it for anyone else. So if you set up a huge wind farm in Masterton you're still going to have a lot of wind in Wellington.

"So because of that it's constantly replenishing. It's a good that everyone can use without depleting it for anyone else. It's quite different from water."

Moon said if a commercial wind farm is set up, there is no barrier to hapu or iwi also applying for consents to generate electricity by wind.

And there is no example of a breach of the Treaty by the Crown in relation to the wind, he said.

'You don't sell your assets'

Rankin, asked if the wind claim undermines the work done by Maori on the water right issue, said: "It's actually about lighting a fire under the opinion of people in this country to actually realise that you don't sell your assets."

He said if you sell your home and become a tenant, you will never own again.

"I'm not trying to take the wind out of the sails of the water people. It's the same resource."

However, Moon said the water is quite different because it can be quantified.

"If you get your water rates bill, part of the charge is for the use of the quantity of water. It's got a specific use and if you use it for one purpose it can be to the detriment of someone else."

Moon says that the claimants will have to prove how wind can be defined as a specific commodity, and subsequently regulated.

He says the tribunal has the right to dismiss claims that it thinks are either frivolous, trivial or vexatious.

"It may hear it (the wind claim), I'm not sure."

Moon said fish and water can be quantified, but water can't be, something Rankin also disputed, saying wind can be metred.