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Landowners let down by Maori Land Bill

Māori landowners have been seriously let down by a flawed Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill which lacks broad support, fails to address the obstacles to development and instead risks further alienation of land, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.

The Māori Affairs Select Committee reported the bill back to Parliament on Friday.

“Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell must withdraw this bill because it is opposed by Māori landowners who have been seriously let down by this flawed piece of legislation.

“Landowners have told us about the barriers to land development, yet this bill fails to address critical issues like landlocked land, paper roads, fair rating or the ability for Māori land to be confiscated under the Public Works Act.

“Instead the bill severely limits the judicial responsibilities of the Māori Land Court, in favour of a proposed new bureaucracy called the Māori Land Service, which we have very little detail about in the bill itself.

“The select committee report recommends numerous changes and acknowledges many of the issues with the bill – including its complexity, the lack of detail around the Maori Land Service and the potential loss of institutional knowledge.

“What isn’t so clearly spelt-out in the report is the widespread and passionate opposition to this bill from small whanau trusts, to large incorporations, Māori institutions, legal experts, opposition parties, academics, workers unions and even the Human Rights Commission.

“Any Māori land reform must be about empowering landowners while protecting the small amount of land that remains in Māori ownership from further loss.

“This bill risks disenfranchising landowners and leading to further alienation.

“Māori know this, which is why there is such strong opposition. It’s time Te Ururoa Flavell showed he was listening and put a stop to this bill,” says Meka Whaitiri.

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