March 2015 Māori Law Review

Review of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 – advisory group appointed

The Minister for Māori Development has appointed an advisory group to help to progress law reform of the governance and management of Māori land.

Overview

The Minister for Māori Development has appointed an advisory group to help to progress law reform of the governance and management of Māori land.

Background

In March 2014 the panel of experts reviewing Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 released its final report and recommendations.

The final report of the Panel confirmed its preliminary view, raised in its 2013 discussion document, that the Māori Land Court's current role in the management and utilisation of Māori land can be scaled back in favour of greater final decision-making by those with governance roles for Māori land. Mediation was recommended as a first step in addressing disputes.

The Government announced that it would prepare a bill to reform the governance and management of Māori land based on the Panel's findings.

See our earlier article summarising the Panel's final report and the 2014 announcement by Government about law reform (2014) April Māori LR.

In August 2014 Te Puni Kōkiri consulted on steps to develop a new bill to reform the law. A copy of the presentation used for that purpose is here.

Discussion

The Minister's 2015 advisory group comprises:

  • Kingi Smiler (chairperson)
  • Traci Houpapa
  • Spencer Webster
  • Linda Te Aho
  • Sacha McMeeking
  • Matanuku Mahuika, and
  • Dr Tanira Kingi

Brief biographical profiles of the advisory group members are available here.

Terms of reference for the advisory group are available here.

The Minister's announcement reads:

Māori Development Minister, Hon Te Ururoa Flavell is pleased to announce the appointment of a Ministerial Advisory Group to progress the introduction of new Māori land legislation this year.

The Bill will replace Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993.

“I am committed to ensuring that the final details of this Bill are informed by the practical experience of people involved closely with Māori land matters and that Māori are engaged throughout the process,” says Mr Flavell.

More than 1.4 million hectares (around five percent of New Zealand’s land mass) is Māori-owned land. Around 80 percent of that land is considered under-utilised and the current legislation is regarded as a major barrier to its optimum use.

“Our intention is to empower Māori at the regional and national level to advance their aspirations and development of their land within a more supportive framework.”

The Ministerial Advisory Group appointments are Kingi Smiler (Chair), Matanuku Mahuika, Traci Houpapa, Spencer Webster, Linda Te Aho, Sacha McMeeking and Dr Tanira Kingi.

For information on the Advisory Group’s terms of reference and for profiles of its members, go to www.tpk.govt.nz/en/a-matou-kaupapa/crown-iwi-hapu-whanau-maori-relations/consultation/review-of-te-ture-whenua-maori-act-1993/

Mr Flavell expects the bill will also create a streamlined land administration system that puts the Māori landowner first.

“I am committed to ensuring that Crown agencies also support Māori land owners with better utilisation of their land. I plan to have discussions with Ministers about the most effective and efficient way to advance, and expand the services to Māori land owners,” says Mr Flavell.

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