Northern leader still voices fears for small land holders

By Mikaela Collins

Add a comment

The chairman of the Te Tai Tokerau Maori Council says proposed changes to the Te Ture Whenua Bill victimise small Maori land owners by removing their rights.

The comments from Rihari Dargaville come after the Waitangi Tribunal found the Crown would be in breach of Treaty principles if it did not ensure there was properly informed, broad-based support from Maori for the new bill to proceed.

Mr Dargaville has been voicing his concerns about the proposed changes to the bill for a long time and filed a submission on behalf of the Te Tai Tokerau Maori Council in August 2015 opposing the Te Ture Whenua Maori Reform.

"My biggest concern is it doesn't take into account the proprietary or customary rights we have as land owners.

"There is no clause that gives small Maori land owners assurance that those rights will be protected."

The new Act was designed to make it easier for Maori land owners to make decisions about how they wish to use their land.

But Mr Dargaville said, because of costs related to transitional arrangements and new transactions, it would only make it easier for large corporations.

"It's particularly a concern in Northland where there are a lot of small whanau landhold groups.

"My problem is that corporations, under that Act, can subsume the land," he said.

The Minister of Maori Development, Te Ururoa Flavell, said he had received the Waitangi Tribunal's report into the Te Ture Whenua Maori Reform and would "consider it in its entirety".

Mr Dargaville said Mr Flavell needed to sit down with claimants and those opposing the bill before it went any further.

"Te Ururoa Flavell needs to take a step back and look at the report and work with those who made submissions and break down the issues of the report."

Mr Flavell said the bill recognised that Maori land interests were derived from custom and whakapapa and all Maori land owners, including small land owners, would have their rights confirmed.

"Under the current Act, thresholds are that 75 per cent of all owners must agree to the change of status of Maori land.

"Under the proposed bill this threshold will be maintained and owners, if they choose, can opt to increase this threshold up to 100 per cent of all owners, so the bill strengthens the protections on Maori land."

The reform would require Maori land owners to implement governance structures but Mr Flavell said if there were already governance structures in place they did not have to create a new one if they chose not to.

"If there are not governance structures in place then the new Maori Land Service will be available to assist owners with creating an appropriate governance structure.

"I have asked officials to work on the principle that land owners pay no more for current services than they do now."

- Northern Advocate

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 08 Dec 2016 02:28:04 Processing Time: 296ms