The Maori Council is not trying to claim the ownership of all water, council co-chair Sir Eddie Durie said.
A claim by the council to the Waitangi Tribunal has created doubt about the government's plan to sell stakes in state-owned energy companies which use water and geothermal resources to generate electricity.
The tribunal has asked the government to put asset sales on hold and it is trying to meet an August 24 deadline for a report on Maori water rights. The government is not bound by tribunal decisions.
Sir Eddie told TVNZ's Marae programme on Sunday that the council's tribunal case was not a claim to the ownership of all water.
"This is a claim to proprietary interests in some very specific blocks and it's important to understand that difference."
He gave an example of a spring that was set aside as a water resource for Maori which now supplied about 40 per cent of water to Whangarei and supplied companies that made a profit.
In English law is it not possible to own water but people and businesses have rights to use it.
Sir Eddie, who is a retired High Court judge, said the council was not claiming shares in the state-owned companies being partially privatised but some iwi may wish to do so.
He said the ultimate goal was to get recognition for the rights of Maori.
A royalty scheme could apply when businesses utilised a water resource that was under the mana of a particular hapu or iwi.In an English context this would be like a right to water.
Copyright © 2013 Yahoo! New Zealand
All rights reserved.
Select your region to see news and weather for your area.