Finance Minister Bill English will be in Hawke's Bay next week speaking to Maori as part of a series of hui on the "share plus" concept raised in the Waitangi Tribunal's interim report on proposed state-owned asset sales.
The six hui began yesterday with Tainui waka iwi including Waikato, Hauraki, Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Koroki Kahukura in Hamilton and Mr English is expected in Tuai on September 27 to speak with Waikaremoana iwi including Ngai Tuhoe, Ngati Ruapani and Ngati Kahungunu ki te Wairoa.
He is speaking to iwi and hapu which have a specific connection to the freshwater and geothermal resources used by the state-owned power companies, Mighty River Power, Meridian and Genesis.
Subject to these consultations and to market conditions, the Government intends to sell up to 49 per cent of each of the three companies, starting with Mighty River Power in the first half of next year.
"The Government is confident that in law no one owns water, and is also confident that proceeding with the share offerings will not compromise its ability to recognise those rights and interests that Maori do have in water," Mr English said. "The Waitangi Tribunal itself agreed that proceeding with the initial public offerings would not prevent appropriate rights recognition, and that there would be many options for recognition and redress after the sale of shares.
"However, on one narrow point the Tribunal said the share offering would affect the Crown's ability to recognise Maori rights, and that is the 'shares plus' concept by which the Tribunal suggested there be a special shareholding which would give some Maori shareholders rights above those of other shareholders.
"Over the next 10 days, I will listen carefully to iwi, talk through the issues with them and explain the Government's stance.
"We are also inviting those iwi directly affected by these issues to write to us by Friday, October 5."