April 23, 2013
Ngai Tahu Law Centre under threat
A rare source of expertise in Māori land law is under threat of closure.
Dunedin-based Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre offers a free service to all those who live in the Ngāi Tahu area – regardless of iwi – and to Ngāi Tahu people who live anywhere in the world.
Spokesperson Desiree Mahy of Ngāi Tuhoe says it’s involved in up to 90 percent of cases of Māori land in the Ngāi Tahu area and at least half of Māori land cases elsewhere in the country.
But she fears its funding is set to be withdrawn because the Justice Ministry doesn’t consider the field a priority and there are no alternative services.
“We’ve got 20 years of developed knowledge and we receive regular referrals from our general solicitors who recognise that the best interest for their client is for them to come to us for estate matters of Māori land. It’s because of the standard of Māori things that happen, Māori incorporation shares and the complication that sort of stuff brings about,” she says.
Desiree Mahy says the law centre is urging its clients to lobby the Justice Ministry to continue funding past this year.
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