The main questions that need to be resolved are:

  • When is it practicable to recognise Māori proprietary interests today?
  • Where recognition is practicable, how should recognition be given?

As an example, it is entirely practicable (and fair) to recognise proprietary interests in springs set aside as Māori reservations for the purposes of a water supply for local hapū but now used by local authorities or industries under resource consents, without the approval of or payment to the associated hapū or papakainga. Recognition may take the form of requiring hapū approval and the payment of a royalty.

The task then is to settle the fair ambit of the criteria for the recognition of proprietary rights generally having regard to the extent of land alienation and the substantial and legitimate general public interest.