LAST week we heard the Maori King saying “We have always owned the water” and Prime Minister John Key countering that “No one owns the water”.
The mere suggestion that water can be owned greatly concerns me.
Whether one believes the Biblical creation story or Darwin’s evolution of species, it makes no difference. Humans were virtually the last of all species to appear here on Earth and surely the least physically equipped to survive — hairless frames, comparatively low muscular strength, slow reactions and an extremely long period of childhood.
Yet we made it, here we are. Our species has always taken extra from nature to compensate.
Using superior thinking and dexterous hands, our ancestors learned to use fire, make tools and weapons, slaughter animals, and more. Archaeological science has discovered from cave drawings and other discoveries how early peoples lived and clothed themselves, and such like.
There is evidence these people had a special relationship with nature, possessing spiritual awareness and a natural curiosity about their world.
There were no scientific explanations or organised religions. They depended on their immediate natural surroundings to provide all their needs. Their survival depended on being in tune with nature.
I am sure that to the ancients, ownership of water would be a strange idea.
Maybe King Tuheitia’s concept of ownership differs from Pakeha concepts but I do agree with Mr Key that no one owns water.
Further, no one owns the air, no one owns the oceans — I cannot understand how we can own the land for that matter either.
Customary rights, stewardship, guardianship, maybe, but certainly not ownership.
We and all other life forms belong to the Mother Earth Papatuanuku.
Before Pakeha arrived in Aotearoa and installed European ownership values, I am sure Maori would have agreed —along with the other indigenous people of the world.
Earth’s water, oceans, land and air are all too precious to be owned and spoiled by humanity.
I truly doubt our Prime Minister seriously believes his own words. He may yet have to eat them if he is not careful.
Our Government has opened New Zealand up to big coal mining and petroleum companies, all desperate to extract product from our land and sea-beds.
Mining and drilling for fossil fuels pollutes water and brings to the surface large quantities of byproducts, creating large-scale waste disposal challenges.
Toxic material from beneath the Earth’s surface will spew out sediments, nutrients and a host of organic nasties harmful to our flora and fauna, further contaminating our land, water, lakes and oceans.
Dear Mr Key, no one owns the water — so do not allow the mining and oil companies to do this to it.
On environmental matters, your Government has already proven it cannot be trusted. It has repeatedly forsaken our environment and has no vision for a healthy future for our planet.
No one owns the water but I reckon that if ownership must be decided, let Maori be the custodians.
“Water is precious; it is the very source of life and a free gift from the Creator.”
— Desmond M. Tutu