By Sarah Taylor
One Pure, owned by Hong Kong based corporation Hon Lung International, with the capital and expertise to build a massive water bottling facility, felt the need to approach Hawke’s Bay tribal entity Ngati Paarau[i] for “support and partnership [ii]” in their endeavour. Why?
According to Ngati Paarau spokesman Denis O’Reilly, this support and partnership is “good for our region and our nation, all of us, regardless of our ethnicity or derivation”.
So can Mr O’Reilly answer the following questions for the citizens of Hawke’s Bay and, indeed, the entire nation:
1. What is the nature of the “support and partnership” which was requested of Ngati Paarau by One Pure? Are these “support and partnership” services of a scientific nature relating to the preservation of our aquifer? If so, did One Pure approach any other organisation for this expertise?
2. If Ngati Paarau’s knowledge regarding the Heretaunga Plains aquifer (flowing tens of metres underground) is in the nature of traditional maori knowledge, should this knowledge not be preserved and accessible to those beyond Ngati Paarau, or can this traditional knowledge only be exercised by members of Ngati Paarau?
3. Mr O’Reilly states that One Pure’s plant will have “minimal effect on the aquifer, if any”. Did Ngati Paarau conduct independent tests on the bore to verify this statement, or did they simply accept assertions to this effect from “polite and respectful” One Pure Director Yongnan (Boris) Kang?
4. How does Ngati Paarau’s “support and partnership” enhance the “oranga” – (wellbeing) of the environment and people of Hawke’s Bay, as “an agreed primary value” of the “partnership”?
5. Is there any reason why One Pure would respectfully approach Ngati Paarau, beyond the fact that it needed Ngati Paarau’s consent as an “affected party” to extract water from the aquifer?
6. Has or will Ngati Paarau or any members of Ngati Paarau received any benefit or payment from One Pure by way of compensation for the “support and partnership” provided to One Pure?
It is clear that Ngati Paarau believe they “own” the Heretaunga Plains aquifer. As Mr O’Reilly states: “The prevailing dominant notion is that our water belongs to no one.. . despite the …prescient statement by Tareha Te Moananui …that “the land is yours, the water is mine[iii]”.
National’s Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, which requires local authorities to enter “participation arrangements” with tribal trusts such as Ngati Paarau the length and breadth of the country, will deliver, perhaps, the final step towards transformation of this belief into reality.
 Ngati Paarau (also spelled Ngati Parau), a hapu of Ngati Kahungunu, appears to be represented by the following charitable entities: Waiohiki Community Charitable Trust, Waiohiki Intellectual Property Ltd (which lists its activities as “sponsors / undertakes research”) and Waiohiki Marae Board of Trustees. The financial accounts are presented to the charities commission as the “Waiohiki Community Charitable Trust Consolidated Group”
[ii] “Water agreement benefits all”; Hawke’s Bay Today, 20 October, 2016
[iii] “Water agreement benefits all”; Hawke’s Bay Today, 20 October, 2016