In July 2009, experts from Canada, Australia and New Zealand convened an Indigenous Legal Water Forum, hosted in Wellington by the University of Otago’s Faculty of Law and Landcare Research.
Justice Joe Williams chaired the day’s proceedings and the Minister of Māori Affairs, Hon Pita Sharples, opened the day with a keynote address. Other speakers included Canadian Law Professor Bradford Morse, Australian Law Professor Lee Godden, and Steven Ross, coordinator of the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations, Australia. Tom Bennion, Dr Robert Joseph, Sacha McMeeking, Linda Te Aho and Jacinta Ruru also spoke.
The day explored rights pursuant to international law, the Treaty of Waitangi and the common law doctrine of native title. Topics as diverse as considering ‘Indigenous Property Rights to Water: Environmental Flows, Cultural Values and Tradeable Property Rights in Australia’ to ‘Negotiating co-management of the Waikato River’ were all covered.
The Forum was funded from a Foundation for Research, Science and Technology research grant entitled Old Problems, New Solutions – an interdisciplinary research project focused on governance issues concerning freshwater.