I couldn't help but read the comments thread, because I was so overawed by the stench of stupid that emanates from Hopkins' writing. And this one, from a Paul Andersen, rung true:
Is this rubbish masquerading as humour?That seems to be the most likely explanation.
Essentially Hopkins' argument is that water is transitory, and we can not own transitory things. It's a weak argument. Stock animals are transitory too, both by nature (without fences they wander, and graze) and by the customs of our society (we move them around, including onto land we don't hold title to). Neither instance automatically results in transfer of ownership.
I'm tempted, at this stage, to take the easy way out and say I don't know who owns water. I believe water is capable of being owned, and I believe that on 5 February 1840, water in New Zealand was not owned by the Crown. I understand that there has been no legislation passed, in the interim, that explicitly alienates the pre-Treaty owners from their ownership rights. As such, that leaves the owners of water, as at 5 February 1840 with the ability to assert their ownership rights.
I look forward to seeing what wiser heads than mine think.
And while I haven't worked out all the answers for myself, I do know who doesn't have the answers, and whose column and thoughts need not be consider - and that's Jim Hopkins.
Heavenly Bodies - ...But I Can Write Songs Okay (Compilation), 1996