April 14, 2016
Ture Whenua Maori Bill progresses to the House
Hon Te Ururoa Flavell
Te Minita Whanaketanga Māori
Minister for Māori Development
14 April 2016
Ture Whenua Maori Bill progresses to the House
Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell will introduce Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill into Parliament. His decision comes after giving full consideration to the Waitangi Tribunal report released in March and taking extensive advice.
“I thank the Tribunal for its report He Kura Whenua ka Rokohanga and its recommendations. I have read the final report fully and believe that the issues raised in the Tribunal’s recommendations have been addressed or will be addressed as part of the reform programme,” says Mr Flavell.
The Tribunal recognised that both Māori and the Crown instigated and shaped the 2013 reform proposal for Māori land law that has led to the current review and that concerns were raised by Māori land owners as far back as 1998.
On the question of whether there is sufficient support from Māori for the Bill, Mr Flavell believes there is broad-based support for the Bill to be introduced.
“After canvassing a wide range of views on the Bill and the progress we have made on other aspects of the reform, I am confident there is general support from Māori for the Bill to go into the House. Unlike most Bills, people have had the opportunity to see it and make submissions on the exposure draft before it has been introduced into the House. The Tribunal was also provided with a further revised draft,” he says.
Since the Tribunal hearing there has been ongoing hui with representative groups of Māori land owners as well as a further 22 public information hui and 14 wānanga around the country.
"I have also received formal support from the independent Ministerial Advisory Group, Iwi Chairs, the Federation of Māori Authorities, Te Tumu Paeroa and individual Māori land trusts, both large and small, who want the Bill to move forward.
"Their key concerns are ensuring that we maintain momentum for the reform and that outstanding issues are addressed during the parliamentary process including at the Select Committee stage.”
In the Tribunal’s view, empirical research on the short-comings of the current Act governing Māori land law was required before proceeding with the reform.
Mr Flavell doesn’t believe additional evidence is needed to justify changing the Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993.
“As the Tribunal itself found, the reform proposals arose out of dialogue between Māori and the Crown, dating back at least 18 years. Since then, there have been numerous reviews, reports, submissions, wānanga and hui that highlight the same consistent themes. The Tribunal dedicated much of their report to outlining the history of the Māori land law and the efforts to change it.
Māori land owners want greater autonomy to make their own decisions, they want more support to develop their land and they want to protect their land for future generations. These fundamental concepts form the basis of this Bill and the broader reform programme.”
The Tribunal report also recommends that the Crown collaborate with Māori on the development of the proposed Māori Land Service.
“The intention has always been that the detailed design of a Māori Land Service can only happen with the involvement of Māori land owners and this will take place during 2016,” he says.
Te Puni Kōkiri will undertake nationwide wānanga into the development of the Māori Land Service later this year.
“This is another opportunity for Māori to be involved in shaping an important component of the reform. It must be fit for purpose and land owners can assist here. The Māori Land Service will provide a one-stop shop for Māori land owners with the information they require to make decisions about their land and will provide practical support.”
The Māori Land Service will take over some of the administrative functions of the Māori Land Court while adding new services like assisting Māori land owners to transition to better governance structures under the new Act.
Under the Ture Whenua Māori Bill, the Māori Land Court remains the primary judicial institution on Māori land law and it has an important ongoing role in the retention and protection of Māori land.
The Waitangi Tribunal urges the Crown to continue work on pressing issues such as rating, valuation, landlocked land, paper roads and the impact of the Public Works Act on Māori land.
Since Mr Flavell took over the reform of Ture Whenua in November 2014, work on these long-standing barriers to better utilising Māori land has continued. In February, the Māori Development Minister announced changes to the valuation and rating regime for Māori land.
“Work on other significant barriers to using Māori land such as paper roads and landlocked land will also occur this year in tandem with the Bill’s progress through the House.”
Most of the specific recommendations on the draft Bill considered by the Tribunal concern protecting the interests of all Māori land owners and the role of the Māori Land Court. For more information on how the matters raised by the Waitangi Tribunal have been dealt with or will be addressed, see attached reference notes.
Mr Flavell says the Ture Whenua reform programme which includes the development of the Māori Land Service, the legislative review and the Whenua Māori Fund will change the way Māori interact with their land now and in the future.
“This Bill is hugely important to Māori and I am committed to ensuring it fulfils its promise as an enabling piece of legislation for generations to come.”
You can find out more information about the Ture Whenua Māori review at www.tpk.govt.nz
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