In a previous blog post, this was said:
Perhaps not? Maybe it’s going to be more a matter of, Whinlayson’s enabled us to. . .
Screw You For Everything!
Read the letter below. A harbinger of coastal and marine area ka-ching things to come?
Letter to the Editor
Over the past year I have been communicating with Government Minister Christopher Finlayson in order to establish ownership of the waters of Lake Taupo. This came about as a consequence of being made aware that the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board (TMTB) had raised a levy on the commercial boat operators for the use of the waters of Lake Taupo for such activities as boat tours, fishing and other vessel activities on the lake. Most of these activities do not involve contact with the lakebed.
A Deed was signed between the Crown and Tuwharetoa Maori in 1992 and amended in 2007. In a nutshell, this deed establishes ownership of the bed of Lake Taupo by TMTB but not the water of the lake. The Crown owns the water of the lake by statute.
Further, TMBT is entitled to charge for commercial activities and commercial structures which involve the use of the lakebed.
Minister Finlayson has stated that TMTB owns the lakebed as well as the “water column” and the “airspace” above the lakebed despite these entities not being stated in the Deed. I disagree with his statement.
I put to the Minister the following questions for clarification:
(1) “The definition of “water column” with regard to lakes and rivers is defined as the column of water from the surface of the water down to the bottom sediments. It seems incongruous for the Trust Board to have rights to control the water column when it is clearly understood in the Deed that the Crown owns the water of the rivers and the lake.”
(2) “The definition of “air space” is the space above the earth or above a certain area of land or water. With this in mind it is logical that the airspace above the rivers and waters of Lake Taupo would be owned by the Crown for which it would have rights to control this airspace. This clearly would indicate that it is inappropriate for the Trust Board to have rights to control the airspace above the aforementioned waters.”
(3) “Bearing in mind the definitions of “water column” and “airspace” it would be that the Crown has ownership and rights to manage these and not the Trust Board. Thus the Trust Board would have no right to charge commercial users for the use of the waters of Lake Taupo.”
The Minister has not given me an answer to these questions but has reiterated that a general principle of property law gives the landowner (i.e. of the lakebed) rights to the lakebed, as well as the water column and the airspace above.
He has effectively gagged further discussion by suggesting that I seek legal advice.
I believe the Minister has misinterpreted the Deed and that interpretation of the Deed needs to be revisited. Hopefully, the way things are going with regard to the forthcoming general election, I may well have the opportunity to revisit the Deed later this year.
1 May 2017