An expert panel will review Te Ture Whenua MÄori Act with a view to unlocking the economic potential of MÄori land for its beneficiaries, while preserving its cultural significance for future generations, Associate MÄori Affairs Minister Christopher Finlayson announced today.
There are over 27,137 blocks of MÄori land under Te Ture Whenua MÄori Act, comprising 1.42 million hectares, or around 5% of the total land in New Zealand.
A report in March 2011 by the (then) Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry estimated that up to 80% of MÄori land was under-performing for its owners.
In many cases this was because of structural issues which stemmed from the legislation.
“The 2011 MAF report showed there are a number of issues affecting the performance of MÄori land and I see these in my work travelling the country as Treaty Negotiations Minister,” says Christopher.
“In particular compliance costs associated with Te Ture Whenua MÄori Act and the processes of the MÄori Land Court can also have flow on effects for governance. That is why I have commissioned a very able panel of experts to review the Act and make practical recommendations for enhancing the legislation.
“Improving the performance and productivity of MÄori land would provide tremendous economic benefits to its owners and to the country as a whole.
“Another key consideration for the review is that MÄori land owners believe MÄori land should be retained and passed on to future generations, as taonga tuku iho (a legacy),” says Christopher.
“It should be retained and developed for the benefit of owners - whÄnau, hapÅ«, and iwi. This cultural value is explicitly recognised in Te Ture Whenua MÄori Act and must be protected in any changes to the legislation.”
The Act was last reviewed in 2002, but most recommendations went unimplemented.
The expert review panel will be chaired by lawyer Matanuku Mahuika. The other members are Tokorangi Kapea, Patsy Reddy , and Dion Tuuta.
The panel will report to the Associate Minister of MÄori Affairs with recommendations in December 2012.
Source: Office of Christopher Finlayson.