Ture Whenua Māori Bill - Key Changes

The Ture Whenua Māori Bill is due to be introduced into parliament early this year.

The Māori Party supports the road to mana motuhake for Māori landowners. 

 

 


Ngā Kōrero o te Wā

Māori Party E-Newsletter 19 February 2016

The latest news from the Māori Party

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Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua

While people perish, the land remains 

Our whenua and whakapapa are essential parts of being Māori. Both indefinitely intertwined with our identity. The massive loss of Māori land in less than a century, facilitated by the Crown, remains fresh in the minds of our people. With this background, it is not surprising that the current reform of Māori land law evokes strong emotions and fear by some that this is an attempt to further alienate Māori land. This is absolutely not the case. Retaining whenua Māori in Māori hands remains paramount, and has been strengthened in the Ture Whenua Māori Bill. 

Te Ture Whenua Māori - Key Changes

As Minister for Māori Development, Te Ururoa is driving this reform. But the people who have repeatedly called for better land law are Māori landowners themselves. This law changes comes after 17 years of reviews and reports as well as three years of extensive consultation over the Bill.

Here’s a brief summary of the key changes:

1.     STRENGTHENING THE RETENTION OF WHENUA

2.     RATES RELIEF

3.     GREATER DECISION-MAKING

4.     GREATER ENGAGEMENT WITH ALL SHAREHOLDERS

5.     DEDICATED SUPPORT SERVICES

6.     PROTECTING THE WHENUA

7.     GREATER ENGAGEMENT WITH THE WHENUA

 

 

1.     STRENGTHENING THE RETENTION OF WHENUA

The Ture Whenua Māori Bill will make it harder to sell Māori land. At present, Māori land can be transferred into general title with 75 percent support from all shareholders. In the new Bill, this is the minimum requirement but owners can choose to increase that threshold up to 100 percent. If owners choose to raise the sale threshold to 100 percent it would be virtually impossible to sell it.

Another new provision in this Bill will ensure that customary land cannot be sold – customary land can be sold under the current legislation.

 

2.     RATES RELIEF

The Bill will bring in a fairer valuation regime that will result in lower rates on all Māori land. The new valuations will take into account the unique aspects of Māori land such as multiple ownership and and the time and cost of changing Māori land status 

Unpaid rates on Māori land have been a sore point for both Māori landowners and local councils for more than a century. The Bill will give local councils clearer guidance on both the non-rating and writing off of arrears on unoccupied and unused Māori land. This will give landowners a fresh start, once you decide what you want to do with your land.

Councils will also be required to non-rate Ngā Whenua Rahui (conservation land) as well as remove the two hectare limit on the non-rating of marae and urupā. These changes are about fairness. Other similar types of land use – QEII covenanted land, churches and cemeteries are not required to pay rates.

 

3.     GREATER DECISION-MAKING 

The changes will make it easier for Māori landowners to make decisions, on their own, about their land - this is at the heart of the reform. Rather than applying for an order from the Māori Land Court, Māori landowners will now be able to make a range of decisions on their own such as:

  • Establishing a governance body to manage Māori land on behalf of its owners
  • Appointing kaitiaki to administer the governance body
  • Forming a whānau trust to hold and manage Māori land
  • Converting the ownership of Māori land to collective ownership
  • Providing residential housing rights to the owners of the land and the beneficiaries of a whānau trust (on a rent free basis) and to other persons (with rent payable)
  • Amalgamating two or more land parcels of Māori land into one new parcel; and
  • Transferring individual interests in Māori land amongst whānau.

Māori landowners will need to register those decisions with the new Māori Land Service. 

 

4.     GREATER ENGAGEMENT WITH ALL SHAREHOLDERS

All Māori landowners have interests in their whenua.

The Bill makes a distinction between decisions that can be made by owners who participate in the decision-making process and decisions that must be made by all owners. 

For instance, participating owners may decide to change the name of a parcel of Māori land: but a decision to convert separate ownership interests in Māori land to collective ownership must be made by all owners. 

The Bill provides that owners may attend meetings in person via a nominated representative, or via telephone or internet-based technology (i.e. Skype).  The Bill enables them to cast their vote using postal or email voting forms or by using an electronic voting system. This process will ensure that owners who live away from the rohe are able to participate in decisions that relate to their land.

 

5.     DEDICATED SUPPORT SERVICES

 A new Māori Land Service will provide a one-stop shop where you can get information and expert advice about your land. They will be able to help you explore your priorities for the land whether they are social, cultural, environmental or economic. The Service will also provide a tikanga-based disputes resolution process to encourage Māori landowners to reach a decision amongst themselves before going to the Māori Land Court

 

6.     PROTECTING THE WHENUA

The Māori Land Court will remain as an accessible forum for resolving important legal issues that affect Māori land. They will have a strong role to play in ensuring that Māori land is retained in Māori ownership.

 

7.     GREATER ENGAGEMENT WITH THE WHENUA

The reform should lead to more Māori landowners being more engaged with their whenua. There are more than 1.4 million hectares of Māori land and around 36 percent of that whenua is unused or unoccupied. The possibilities are vast. Māori landowners may choose to establish conservation projects, papakāinga, leave it as it is or develop the land to create jobs and businesses. Ultimately it’s up to the owners. This law change is about making it easier for Māori landowners to determine that destiny.

The Ture Whenua Māori Bill is due to be introduced into parliament early this year at the Select Committee stage.

He Kupu Whakakapi

The Māori Party supports the road to mana motuhake for Māori landowners. The Ture Whenua Māori Bill is due to be introduced into Parliament early this year.

For detailed information on the Bill, go to the Te Puni Kōkiri website.

Or check out the Ture Whenua Māori Reform facebook page for updates.

 

If you have any feedback, you can contact email or call 04 817 8259. If you know of anyone who may want to receive this newsletter, you can pass on this newsletter and they can register online

 

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