Te Ture Whenua Māori Act review report releasedMāori Affairs
The Government is drafting a new Te Ture Whenua Māori bill to reform the governance and management of Māori land based on the findings of an expert review panel released today, Associate Minister of Māori Affairs Christopher Finlayson has announced.
Mr Finlayson today released the final report of the panel reviewing Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, which outlines the panel’s recommendations for reform of the laws that will serve as the basis for new legislation.
Key features of the bill will include:
- allowing engaged owners to make governance and utilisation decisions without needing approval by the Māori Land Court;
- continued safeguards to support the retention of Māori land;
- provisions allowing for external managers to administer under-utilised blocks pending owner engagement;
- a clearer framework for Māori land governance entities such as trusts and incorporations;
- greater emphasis on mediation;
- the Māori Land Court remaining an accessible forum for Māori land issues but with fewer matters needing Court involvement; and
- options for dealing with fragmentation.
The panel’s report summarises both the written and verbal feedback received on a discussion document released last year.
The expert review panel was chaired by Matanuku Mahuika. The other members were Toko Kapea, Patsy Reddy, and Dion Tuuta. It conducted 20 consultation hui, and received 189 written submissions from individuals, whānau, hapū, iwi, trusts and incorporations, local authorities, law firms and others before producing its final report.
There are over 27,137 blocks of Māori land under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, comprising 1.42 million hectares, or around 5% of the total land in New Zealand.
It has been estimated that up to 80% of Māori land is under-performing for its owners. In many cases this is because of structural issues which stem from the existing legislation.
Improving the performance and productivity of Māori land would provide tremendous economic and cultural benefits to its owners and their whānau, hapū and iwi.
A study prepared for the Ministry of Primary Industries suggested the benefits of improving governance and management of Maori land could be huge, increasing output by up to $8 billion and creating up to 3600 jobs over a decade.
“Māori land is a resource that contributes significantly to the cultural identity and well-being of Māori land owners,” Mr Finlayson said. “I look forward to progressing legislation that will allow this potential to be realised.”
“The Minister for Land Information and I are developing proposals for implementing the changes so that services to support Māori land owners and assure the integrity of the Māori land title system will be in place and aligned with the new legislation.”
“I would like to thank the review panel for their efforts in coming up with pragmatic solutions to simplify the legislative framework governing Māori land,” Mr Finlayson said.