Hui at Kaitaia to discuss Maori land reform bill

By Mike Barrington

Te Ururoa Flavell.
Te Ururoa Flavell.

Far North Maori landowners and trustees will discuss the draft Maori land reform bill, Te Ture Whenua Maori next week.

The meeting is in the main hall at Te Ahu in Kaitaia between noon and 4pm on Thursday, March 17.

The hui was arranged by Te Puni Kokiri (TPK) after Far North Mayor John Carter and Ngakahu Ahu Whenua Trust interim management committee member Des Mahoney told Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell information hui about the land reforms held at Kaikohe and Whangarei were too far away for people living on the the Aupouri Peninsula to attend.

Mr Carter was to meet Mr Flavell in Wellington today to discuss aspects of the draft reform bill affecting local authorities.

He was grateful the minister had arranged for discussion on the proposed reforms at Kaitaia as the Far North had a significantly high proportion of land in Maori ownership.

A key change in the Bill would create a new ratings framework giving councils the power to remove rates arrears on unoccupied and unused Maori freehold land once owners demonstrated their commitment to developing the land.

This would effectively create a clean slate for landowners who are keen to develop their whenua but are currently lumbered with historic debt.

The reforms also call for non-rating of Maori land that is unoccupied and unused.

Councils would also remove the 2ha limit for non-rating of marae and urupa and not rate whenua subject to Nga Whenua Rahui covenants.

The reforms would also create a new framework for the valuation of Maori land for rating purposes to take into account unique circumstances, such as multiple ownership, issues of sale, sites of significance and the social, cultural and general heritage connections to the land.

- Northern Advocate

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