April 03, 2014
Maori land reform report out
Big changes could be on the way for owners of Maori land.
The Government is drafting a new Te Ture Whenua Maori bill based on the findings of an expert review panel.
Associate Maori Affairs Minister Christopher Finlayson says while the Maori Land Court will remain an accessible forum for Maori land issues, the reforms should mean there will be fewer matters needing court involvement.
They include letting engaged owners decide how land will be used, without needing approval by the Maori Land Court, and without requiring a majority of all owners.
There will be a greater emphasis on mediation and a clearer framework for Maori land governance entities such as trusts and incorporations.
Mr Finlayson says the bill will include continued safeguards to support the retention of Maori land and options for dealing with fragmentation.
He says structural issues stemming from the existing legislation have been blamed for the under-performance of Maori land, which some experts say affects up to 80 percent of Maori land.
The expert review panel was chaired by Gisborne lawyer Matanuku Mahuika and included were Toko Kapea, Patsy Reddy and Dion Tuuta.
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