Sweeping changes proposed to Maori land laws

East Coast, Northland and Bay of Plenty have been identified as priority areas for change.

East Coast, Northland and Bay of Plenty have been identified as priority areas for change.

File picture

MAYOR Meng Foon has welcomed proposed sweeping changes to the way unused or unoccupied Maori land is treated, including the ability to remove rates arrears.

The changes, announced by Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell, are designed to provide councils with more workable tools when dealing with unoccupied or unused Maori

East Coast, Northland and Bay of Plenty have been identified as priority areas for the changes. Mr Foon said he would meet with Mr Flavell and Minister for Local Government Pesata Sam Lotu-Liga next month to further discuss the proposals.

“I would like the GDC to model the effect of these changes,” he said.

The Government says local councils already have the ability to remit rates on general and Maori land. However this proposed change clarifies the law around the rating of unoccupied and unused Maori land.

The changes will provide councils the ability to remove rates arrears on unoccupied and unused Maori land where there is a demonstrable commitment to use or occupy land; or little prospect of the land ever being used or occupied.

Intention to make it easier for Maori land owners

The proposal has arisen out of a review of Maori land law, which aims to make it easier for Maori land owners to make decisions about their land while ensuring its retention.

Rates arrears were identified as one of the major barriers to Maori land use at consultation hui held on the Ture Whenua Bill last year.

“Maori land has been convoluted and difficult for owners to deal with for 150 years,” said Mr Flavell.

“This rating proposal will create a clean slate for owners who want to use or occupy undeveloped land but are laden with ratings debt,” he said.

The change would encourage Maori landowners to use their land and would in turn provide a boost to the local economy.

Other changes include the removal of the two-hectare non-rating limit for marae and urupa, and that Maori land subject to Whenua Rahui covenants will not be rated.

This will bring Maori land into line with similar general land such as churches, cemeteries and QE11 covenant land. A new approach to the valuation of Maori land is also being developed.

The changes to the rating framework for Maori land will be made via the Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill and amendments to the rating and local government acts, and the rating valuation act.

The Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill will be introduced into Parliament early this year.

MAYOR Meng Foon has welcomed proposed sweeping changes to the way unused or unoccupied Maori land is treated, including the ability to remove rates arrears.

The changes, announced by Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell, are designed to provide councils with more workable tools when dealing with unoccupied or unused Maori

East Coast, Northland and Bay of Plenty have been identified as priority areas for the changes. Mr Foon said he would meet with Mr Flavell and Minister for Local Government Pesata Sam Lotu-Liga next month to further discuss the proposals.

“I would like the GDC to model the effect of these changes,” he said.

The Government says local councils already have the ability to remit rates on general and Maori land. However this proposed change clarifies the law around the rating of unoccupied and unused Maori land.

The changes will provide councils the ability to remove rates arrears on unoccupied and unused Maori land where there is a demonstrable commitment to use or occupy land; or little prospect of the land ever being used or occupied.

Intention to make it easier for Maori land owners

The proposal has arisen out of a review of Maori land law, which aims to make it easier for Maori land owners to make decisions about their land while ensuring its retention.

Rates arrears were identified as one of the major barriers to Maori land use at consultation hui held on the Ture Whenua Bill last year.

“Maori land has been convoluted and difficult for owners to deal with for 150 years,” said Mr Flavell.

“This rating proposal will create a clean slate for owners who want to use or occupy undeveloped land but are laden with ratings debt,” he said.

The change would encourage Maori landowners to use their land and would in turn provide a boost to the local economy.

Other changes include the removal of the two-hectare non-rating limit for marae and urupa, and that Maori land subject to Whenua Rahui covenants will not be rated.

This will bring Maori land into line with similar general land such as churches, cemeteries and QE11 covenant land. A new approach to the valuation of Maori land is also being developed.

The changes to the rating framework for Maori land will be made via the Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill and amendments to the rating and local government acts, and the rating valuation act.

The Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill will be introduced into Parliament early this year.

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Charles Te Kowhai - 3 years ago
Maori are opposed to this new bill altogether. The Waitangi Tribunal and Maori Land Court judges have grave concerns about it and recommend the fast-track consultation process be halted. The Rotorua consultation hui made three resolutions to abort the implementation of the intended bill. The rating issues mentioned in this article can be easily accommodated with amendments to the current Act. There is another agenda for legislative change, and it's not being driven by Maori but rather the National Government.

Whaea - 3 years ago
Nah - disagree with Charles - I think that a small section of Maori are opposed - and are misusing the critical analysis done by very thoughtful and knowledgeable people - for their own ends. In the second round of consultation those of us who were trying to listen to the presentation, and reflect on what was being said, heard that all the feedback that was given first consultation round had been considered and responded to - and incorporated into the second version - which the presenters were trying to deliver for us to go away and further consider. The Waitangi report is not yet released in full - but the little we do know simply seems to say that unless the majority of Maori are behind the bill it shouldn't pass into law - and no one disagrees with that - I haven't heard any real criticisms of the actual bill clauses and how each one would specifically disadvantage Maori whanau.

Whaea - 3 years ago
I was at the Rotorua hui and I did not hear three resolutions about the bill. One resolution was actually about ensuring the bill was under the umbrella of the Treaty of Waitangi - like anyone is not going to pass that motion - but to have it passed and then have people say it meant 'we don't like the proposed changes to the Ture Whenua Act' - is a leap of fantasy that does not in any way resemble my memory of what went down.

ukaipo - 3 years ago
How will this look for small shareholders in large blocks, how would individuals react with larger shares in the event of future development of their lands, why are we rushing and why are we not listening to the to's and fro's within Maaoridom as opposed to the governments? Why aren't we listening to the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal and our Maori Land Court judges? Why are we rushing it to Parliament? Why are we assuming that government knows what's best for us? It took 20 years to make changes to the 1993 Amendments Act. We only had 5 minutes of so-called consultation hui around the motu and now it's going to be tabled in Parliament next week. Waste all the efforts of our true leaders of Maoridom, Apirana Ngata, Whina Cooper and Eva Rickards - who were accountable to their people first. More korero, more debating, more learning for better understanding around the motu. Discussions where you're lucky to get a hundred people for an hour and a half, and those of us that think we got after that one hour or so really. Come on whanau. Just saying not too fussed about others' reaction to my spiel - I'm a land owner and I don't fully understand, that's all.

Dion bell - 3 years ago
What does this mean for Maori whose grandparents had their land confiscated because they could not afford to pay their rates in the 1950s? They left their lands to come to Auckland to find work. As a mokopuna I need to know this.

SD - 3 years ago
Less than 600 of the total population of Tangata Whenua attended these consultation rounds nationwide and less than 500 voted. I attended the sole hui where no resolution was passed and on reasoning, supported the move because it did not engage in the process rushing these reforms on to the table in Parliament. Fair to say that in general, this was not supported widely by Maori at all.
The outcome spoke for itself - fact is the resolutions were ignored completely (apparent at its introduction to Parliament), and the recommendations of the few people who did attend to voice their concerns were also scrapped. As were mine.
So while all the heated debate was raging during this diversion, Parliament was quietly getting on with crossing their Ts, dotting their Is and busy bullshitting themselves as well as everyone else they'd fulfilled their consultation process. Well for all appearances anyway - mine is just 1 perspective of many.
The only difference with the "consultation" korero this time around in comparison to TPK a few years back is it got repackaged with a bow. Same bs, different day? Be alright if I was after fish'n chips and waiting in line for my order to come up but I kind of don't see the point . . . when I own the whenua the takeaway sits on, look after the wai the ika on the menu is sourced from and grow the potatoes the takeaway sells as chips.
Joe Bloggs' take on the consultation hui anyway - Ture Whenua Maori Act Reform, Water Rights and Marine Reserve Act Reform.

Irene, Melbourne - 3 years ago
This will make it a lot easier for them to steal what's left of our lands now. It will suit Key's TPP rape and pillage of our country, just as he has planned.

Peter Hoey, Taitokerau - 2 years ago
The Maori Land Court Judges and the Waitangi Tribunal have grave concerns about it. I will say it again, and I will keep saying it. Flavell . . . kupapa. As the rangatira Whina Cooper said "Not one acre more"...

M TeWhat, Hokianga - 2 years ago
Why the heck should we pay for something we owned in the first place anyway? Makes it easier to confiscate land because of rate arrears etc. Rates for what? Improvements...not...the land our old people gave us means more to some of us than money.

Charlotte Ngapera, Auckland - 1 year ago
What difference does it make whether you are a large or small shareholder in a large block? In your vote? I agree that they intend to steal the rest.
I even think they made changes in Maori land when they gave free surveys in 2008.
Not only are they trying to steal the rest, but covering up for lands not quite covered.

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