Tax Fear for Waikato River
Fears have been voiced over the possible taxation of commercial use of the Waikato River.
South Island fisherman, Clem Smith, has warned that the commercial fisherman on the Waikato River might face an “iwi tax”. This claim comes from the recent imposition of conservation levy imposed by Ngati Tahu on Lake Ellesmere eel fisherman, of who Clem Smith is one. Clem Smith claims that this set a new precedent which would see other Ngaitu (tribal groups) setting levies or conservation fees on commercial use of the waterways under their jurisdiction. The Waikato River is one such body that could face such levies.
The conservation levy imposed on Lake Ellesmere is budget to be directly used for conservation efforts for the river. This action has won it the support of Conservation Department’s Bryan Jensen, who has openly supported the move. Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley on the other hand has decided not involve himself in the matter, citing that it was a concern between the users of the waterways and and the levy imposers.
Other groups have not yet made any indication of following suit. Mark Goudie, owner of the Waipa Delta, a popular tourist attraction on the Waikato River, is slightly more dubious. According to him there was no indication in any recent meetings between him and Tainui (the Maori body related to the Waikato River) that any such fees would be imposed in the foreseeable future.