The Government plan announced today to improve freshwater quality acknowledges that water quality cannot be addressed without a concurrent and substantive discussion with Māori, Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti Minister Kelvin Davis said.

Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today released the Government’s blueprint to improve freshwater quality. It also sets out a new approach to the Māori/Crown relationship that will acknowledge Māori interests in fair access to water to develop their land.

“We acknowledge that Māori have rights and interests in freshwater, and we are committed to a substantive discussion on how to address these interests by taking practical steps to address constraints on Māori land development,” Kelvin Davis said.

“Māori need fair access to water both to meet their aspirations and to enable the broader New Zealand economy to thrive.

“Both Māori and the Crown are committed to water quality and ecosystem health, encapsulated in the concept of Te Mana o te Wai.

“In early August, we established Kahui Wai Māori – the Māori Freshwater Forum – to broaden the conversation with Māori on freshwater, and we will continue to consult more widely, including with the Iwi Leaders Group, before key decision points,” Kelvin Davis said.

David Parker said the Government is taking an inclusive approach to solving these issues by engaging leading New Zealanders who care about our freshwater – environmental NGOs, Māori, farming leaders, scientists, Regional Council experts and others.

“We know Māori share the same interests as the rest of New Zealand in improving water quality and ensuring fair access to water resources,” David Parker said.

Damien O’Connor said New Zealanders all agree our natural resources must be used wisely.

“Primary sectors underpin an environmentally-sustainable, high-value economy that supports the wellbeing of all New Zealanders. This is why we must grow a sustainable and productive primary sector within environmental limits,” Damien O’Connor said.

Kelvin Davis said the work programme will bring in perspectives, insights and skills from a wide range of Māori society.

“We know there are a range of views from Māori about the path forward, and we want an inclusive conversation, that involves all Māori and all New Zealanders,” Kelvin Davis said.