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Maori Council launches new campaign to educate whanau on rates rights

The New Zealand Maori Council has launched a new campaign to ensure that whanau know their rights when it comes to Local Government and rates. Council Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki, has said that many Council’s take advantage of the lack of knowledge of many Maori land holders and has also said that people should openly question whether or not they actually receive a service from the Council:

“Let’s be honest straight up – even if Maori land was not at issue here; When we look at the provinces and regions there are some areas, with high Maori populations, where infrastructure is getting old and poor and you see the progressive decline in basic things such as street lighting, foot paths and so on. Its bad enough that the mail no longer gets collected or there is no longer a bank in town – now we have Council’s wanting to take money and not offer anything tangible in return.” Tukaki said

“Central to this though from a Maori perspective is this nonsense that rates go unpaid which sees massive amounts of money accumulate in debt. The realty is that much of this land is unused and has a complex ownership structure in terms of family trusts and so on. In other words, there is a lot of land that would otherwise be unratable – so what we need to do is highlight what is and what isn’t ratable.” Tukaki said

“This new resource answers some basic questions but also makes it clear that if in doubt question the Local Council. Don’t sit back and just wave the debt notices through the letterbox; learn your rights and if you think you have a case or the Council is in the wrong – put it to them.” Tukaki said

“And our message for Local Council’s should be clear – there is a cop on the beat and this New Zealand Maori Council will not put up with the type of cowboy behavior displayed towards our people or our land. Let’s be really clear here – Maori need to know more about their rights the Local Council’s should not be able to get away with treating us like second class citizens.” Tukaki said

Land that’s not ratable under the ratings legislation

  • Māori customary land an area of land up to two hectares that’s used as an urupā (Māori burial ground)

  • an area of land up to two hectares that’s set aside as a Māori reservation for a marae or meeting place

  • land that’s been set aside as a Māori reservation for the common use and benefit of the people of Aotearoa/New Zealand an area of Māori freehold land up to two hectares on which a meeting house has been built, and

  • Māori freehold land that has been specifically exempted from rates by an Order in Council, on the recommendation of the Māori Land

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