December 27, 2017
Finlayson defends scrapped Maori land law reform
Former associate Maori development minister Christopher Finlayson is accusing Labour of throwing away a real opportunity for Maori and regional New Zealand through scrapping the Te Ture Whenua Bill.
Maori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta has withdrawn the bill from the Government’s legislative agenda in favour of more limited amendments to the current Maori land law.
Mr Finlayson says hundreds of meetings and thousands of hours of work went into the bill, which was in the committee stage of parliament before it was pulled back by Mr Flavell just before the election.
He says it would have made it easier to get more production from Maori land, creating jobs and boosting incomes in regional New Zealand and Maori households.
“Scrapping it makes no sense and like so many of its decisions the Government hasn’t even given a good reason why – or been able to say what they’ll replace it with,” he says.
While the bill was championed by Maori Party ministers Sir Pita Sharples and Te Ururoa Flavell, it came out of National’s Business Growth Agenda.
It was driven by a consultants’ report claiming there was a potential upside of more than $8 billion from bringing Maori land up to full production.
This figure was later scaled back to about $2 billion, but the momentum of reform continued.
The bill was criticised by Maori Land Court judges, lawyers who worked in the court, and landowners.
Many of problems reported by owners regarding rating and valuation and access to landlocked land, were not caused by the 1993 Act but by other laws, which the previous minister promised to address.
Ms Mahuta says that work will be considered in her reform package.
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