We are only stewards of land

Is Minister Te Ururoa Flavell is promoting rates as a golden goose?

Is Minister Te Ururoa Flavell is promoting rates as a golden goose?

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Daniel Procter

COLUMN

“Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitu te whenua.” A Maori proverb with relation to land and its existence in the Maori world view, translated: Humankind passes away but the land remains.

The Maori worldview states that we are only but stewards of the land while we walk on the face of the land, we never truly own the land, the land owns us. We are bound to it, as if it was the life blood that sustains us, so the question must be when thinking about Maori land and what its purpose is: Why do we only quantify land in an economic value?

When I read the purpose of the changes to the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 there is always an economic-based answer which is, how underused the land is and how much more money could be made out of it. The blame is targeted at the same legislation which was put in the first place to protect it, and that its constraints are too firm.

So replacing the old Act with the new will improve the performance and productivity of Maori land and will provide hundreds of millions of dollars for the economic and cultural benefit of owners, their whanau and hapu, while ensuring better guardianship of the whenua.

Now economic and cultural wealth are not the same, and they do not go hand in hand.

Actually, before we had money Maori were rich in culture. Sadly when you bring money into the equation, culture takes a back seat.

I am very aware that it is human to be greedy and want more. However when looking at Maori land you must view it through a Maori lens.

My family’s land on the East Coast would be considered as unproductive through a Western/general-title lens, however it is covered in beautiful native bush, it is a home for birds and bugs, and is a place where we gain Mana Whenua.

I read that the GDC has a $4.38 million rates debt on Maori land. Well, rates are calculated by the value of the property, but what value does a property have if it’s not being used and/or it can never be sold? Priceless.

I am concerned that Minister Te Ururoa Flavell is promoting rates as the golden goose that will get this bill over the line, as he does not need a new bill to make these changes. The Rates Act 2002 should be amended instead of Te Ture Whenua Act. Waiho nga whenua Maori! Kia kaua e ngaro he eka ano!

“Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitu te whenua.” A Maori proverb with relation to land and its existence in the Maori world view, translated: Humankind passes away but the land remains.

The Maori worldview states that we are only but stewards of the land while we walk on the face of the land, we never truly own the land, the land owns us. We are bound to it, as if it was the life blood that sustains us, so the question must be when thinking about Maori land and what its purpose is: Why do we only quantify land in an economic value?

When I read the purpose of the changes to the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 there is always an economic-based answer which is, how underused the land is and how much more money could be made out of it. The blame is targeted at the same legislation which was put in the first place to protect it, and that its constraints are too firm.

So replacing the old Act with the new will improve the performance and productivity of Maori land and will provide hundreds of millions of dollars for the economic and cultural benefit of owners, their whanau and hapu, while ensuring better guardianship of the whenua.

Now economic and cultural wealth are not the same, and they do not go hand in hand.

Actually, before we had money Maori were rich in culture. Sadly when you bring money into the equation, culture takes a back seat.

I am very aware that it is human to be greedy and want more. However when looking at Maori land you must view it through a Maori lens.

My family’s land on the East Coast would be considered as unproductive through a Western/general-title lens, however it is covered in beautiful native bush, it is a home for birds and bugs, and is a place where we gain Mana Whenua.

I read that the GDC has a $4.38 million rates debt on Maori land. Well, rates are calculated by the value of the property, but what value does a property have if it’s not being used and/or it can never be sold? Priceless.

I am concerned that Minister Te Ururoa Flavell is promoting rates as the golden goose that will get this bill over the line, as he does not need a new bill to make these changes. The Rates Act 2002 should be amended instead of Te Ture Whenua Act. Waiho nga whenua Maori! Kia kaua e ngaro he eka ano!

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Bob Hughes - 3 years ago
The heading is right. I put it this way: like all other terrestrial life, we belong to the land - The land does not belong to us.
The Maori "worldview" beats the "Western/general-title lens of land ownership hands down. Any land covered in beautiful native bush, home for birds and bugs, is certainly not unproductive.
Time to change our thinking.
I too would like to know, why do we only quantify land in an economic value?

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