Te Wai Māori Trust was established through a nationwide agreement to represent the interests of iwi in issues relating to freshwater fisheries and waterways. Te Wai Māori Trust was established in 2004 through the Māori Fisheries Act to support and promote iwi management of waterways, notably in relation to customary commercial and customary non-commercial freshwater fisheries. The Trust also has a statutory role protecting and enhancing freshwater fisheries habitats (lakes, rivers, and other water bodies), particularly those that have traditionally supported iwi.

The Trust is to advance Māori interests in freshwater fisheries through:

  • Undertaking and/or funding research, development and education in the field of freshwater fisheries and their habitats;
  • Promoting the protection and enhancement of freshwater fisheries and their habitats;
  • Promoting the establishment of freshwater fisheries; and
  • Using resources to bring direct and indirect benefits to Māori in respect of freshwater fisheries interests.

Although Te Wai Māori Trust is not a party to the proceedings in the Waitangi Tribunal and WAI2358, the approach taken by the claimants under the New Zealand Māori Council supports the position of Te Wai Māori that there are unresolved and untested legal questions about the nature of Māori rights and interests in freshwaterthat need to be answered.