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Maori wind claim will 'increase separatism'

Published: 5:51AM Monday September 10, 2012 Source: ONE News

ACT leader John Banks has warned a Maori claim for wind rights will damage relations between Maori and non-Maori New Zealanders.

Three Northland iwi leaders are planning to lodge a claim for the commercial use of wind with the Waitangi Tribunal.

This follows a recent claim by the Maori Council regarding water rights ahead of the Government's planned partial sale of four state-owned energy companies.

Banks said Ngapuhi's attempt to claim rights over the wind will push many New Zealanders' good-will to "breaking point".

"It is disappointing that Northland iwi have lodged such an opportunistic claim which will only increase the feeling of separatism between Maori and non-Maori alike," said Banks. 

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

Earlier today, Prime Minister John Key rejected the latest claim saying nobody owns the wind.

"That is why we always objected to the water claim. We don't believe anyone owns the water or wind. This is another example of that," he said.

"The government rejects the idea that anyone can own it."

Ngapuhi claimants' spokesman, David Rankin of Te Matarahurahi hapu, says they believe wind can be classed as a taonga - a treasured possession - and if used for commercial gain, Maori should be entitled to a share.  

Te Matarahurahu wants a share in the revenue generated by any state-owned wind farms on a pro-rata basis according to the hapu's territory. It calculates this to be around 0.01% of the country's total land mass.

Rankin is supported by the Ngapuhi Runanga Chairman, Sonny Tau and tribal leader Hone Mihaka and says they expect other iwi to follow suit over the next six months.

Rankin has emphasised that non-commercial wind generation will not be affected by the claim, but says any commercial generation will not be possible in the Northland region unless local hapu and iwi become equal commercial partners. 

"Like fish in the 1980s, and water more recently, wind will become a property right and its commercial use will be a tradable commodity," he said in a statement this morning.
Responding to criticism that there is no substance to the claim, and that it amounts to "flatulence," Rankin said the same arguments were used against the water claim a few months ago.

"We are now at the point where the Maori Council was in June this year, and we expect that by April, the Crown will commence negotiations with us and any other hapu and iwi which will join our claim."
In the United States, similar legal action by native Americans has been under way for wind rights since 2008, Rankin said.

"This is part of a global struggle for indigenous property rights," he said.

Rankin said he had fielded calls from tribal leaders around the country and expects the claim will be joined by several other parties in the following weeks.
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