Kelvin Davis: Ture Whenua Maori Bill neither fair nor right

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Kelvin Davis, MP. Photo / File
Kelvin Davis, MP. Photo / File

Of the 20-plus 'consultation' hui across the country, my colleagues and I attended 14. Not one meeting endorsed the proposed Bill. At the two meetings in Te Tai Tokerau there was outright contempt for it.

The Ture Whenua Maori Bill is up for debate in the committee stages this week. The Bill and the process it has gone through has been shocking; we could be on the verge of a new wave of Maori land loss. The difference this time is that land won't be lost from Maori hands to non-Maori hands; rather it will be lost from Maori who are confused by the law into the hands of their whanau who are 'in the know.'

Despite numerous rewrites and the select committee process, the Minister of Maori Affairs, Te Ururoa Flavell, has conducted a last-minute series of changes that amount to another 40 pages of legislation that the select committee should really be given the courtesy of having a good look at before the Bill proceeds.

The Bill is large enough already, and pretty cumbersome to work through, without 11th hour changes of this magnitude.

The amendments are in fact a rewrite of the whole Bill.
One part that most concerns me is Participation Thresholds, which describes how many owners need to participate in a meeting in order to make decisions about their land.

If there are 10 or fewer owners then all need to participate in any decision, but only half need to agree to the changes.

If there are up to 100 owners only 10 need to participate in a hui to make decisions, and of those only five need to agree. Only 20 of up to 500 owners need to participate, half needing to agree. Fifty of more than 500 owners need to participate, again with half needing to agree. Even if there are 2000 owners, only 25 are needed to make changes on behalf of the other 1975.

It isn't fair and it isn't right. The Labour Party has been opposed to this Bill from the outset. We have been resolute in our opposition, despite the name-calling and put-downs from other parties. When you're right you're right, and nothing will change that.

Of the 20-plus 'consultation' hui across the country, my colleagues and I attended 14. Not one meeting endorsed the proposed Bill. At the two meetings in Te Tai Tokerau there was outright contempt for it.

Te Ururoa Flavell is being economic with the truth when he dismisses people's concerns by saying they were opposed to a much earlier exposure draft. The truth is, this Bill has had more drafts than a haunted house, and our people are confused and angry.

That confusion and anger will only grow when they come to realise some relative of theirs has pulled a swifty on them and they no longer have any say on what happens to their own land.

- Northland Age

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