December 2016 Māori Law Review
The Māori Affairs select committee of the House of Representatives has issued its report on Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill. The Bill proposes significant reform to the law relating to Māori land.
Download the Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill as reported back with commentary (25 Whiringa-ā-rangi 2016 November).
The Government introduced a Bill to reform the law relating to Māori land. The House of Representatives referred the Bill to a Select Committee. After receiving and hearing submissions the Māori Affairs select committee has issued its report on the Bill.
An independent panel of experts earlier recommended new Māori land legislation to replace Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. The Panel considered 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. The Panel's recommendation was that decision-making about governance and use of Māori land should be by engaged owners. Safeguards should remain for disposals of Māori land. Further, duties and responsibilities of those with governance roles should be aligned with the general law.
The Government subsequently considered the Panel's views and developed more detailed proposals.
In February 2015 the Minister for Māori Development appointed an external advisory group to help to progress law reform of the governance and management of Māori land. An exposure draft Bill was subsequently released for public consultation.
The Waitangi Tribunal conducted an urgent inquiry into aspects of the proposed law reform. It issued its report in March 2016.
The Government introduced a Bill into the House of Representatives in April 2016.
See (2016) June Māori LR, (2016) March Māori LR, (2016) February Māori LR, (2015) May Māori LR, (2015) March Māori LR, (2014) April Māori LR and (2013) May Māori LR for further background information about this law reform process.
The Committee, by majority, recommends the Bill is progressed and passed with the amendments suggested in its report.
A minority report from other members of the Committee (members on the Committee from the Labour, Green, and New Zealand First Parties) recommends the Bill not progress.
The two explanations provided by the majority and minority members illustrate a number of ongoing tensions in striking new settings for law reform in this area. Crucial among these at a practical level is the interest shown by parties in learning more about how the proposed Māori Land Service will operate. At a fundamental level some people remain unconvinced major law reform is necessary while those promoting this reform programme consider it will unlock many existing constraints on the effective utilisation of Māori land.
The majority members of the Committee have proposed a long lead-in time after enactment before the Bill would enter into force to give those affected time to prepare for the changes.
The detailed changes recommended by the Committee's report are not set out here, but can be seen in the version of the Bill reported by the Committee.
What is set out here is the commentary comprising the Committee's report (first in te reo Māori and then in English):
Te Pire mō Te Ture Whenua Māori
E ai ki te pūrongo a te Komiti Whiriwhiri Take Māori
Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill
As reported from the Māori Affairs Committee