Amended Statement of Claim with the High Court

April 26, 2022

Last month our lawyers filed an amended Statement of Claim. It takes into account the initial Crown (government's lawyer) Statement of Defence. That Defence mostly evaded engagement with the issues raised by our Statement of Claim filed in December.

Our lawyers have explained why the original Statement of Claim has been amended. -

  • This is a usual or common part of the process, with successive amendments to the Claim sometimes up to the substantive hearing, as the exchanges with the other side show what lines of argument they want to run. We learn what we must claim expressly that we thought was obvious, to be sure that the arguments can be put to the court.
  • The Crown complained that the statement of claim was vague and unspecific. We disagree. We could have just relied on satisfying the court at the hearing that our meanings and intentions were clear. However, it’s more important to spend time arguing about the real issues with the Three Waters Scheme, than arguing about whether they were obvious in our initial pleadings, so our QCs decided we should file a clarifying statement of claim.
  • Amending the statement of claim lets us refine some of our points in a way that forces the Crown to engage with issues they would rather avoid, like the fact that even if some iwi could establish interests in some water bodies, Maori as a whole do not have interests in the three waters infrastructure and services that are superior to the interests of other New Zealanders.
  • We’re also obliging the Crown to say what they think the Treaty principles of partnership and active protection actually require. We say they don’t need co-governance of three waters assets to meet any Treaty obligations. If the Crown insists that co-governance is necessary they must tell us why.

The next step in this case happens at the end of April. This will be the first time the court gets the lawyers together, to sort out hearing timetables, including deadlines for submitting legal argument papers. After that we’ll be able to tell you when our case might be heard.

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