Caution is needed around the Te Ture Whenua Review, to prevent further injustice and the loss of Māori land rights, says Meka Whaitiri, Labour MP for Ikaroa Rāwhiti.
“The possibility the Te Ture Whenua Review could weaken judicial protections and see people lose meaningful interests in fractionally owned Māori land is concerning.
“Māori should be able to control their own destiny in respect of their land. There can be difficult issues around fractionally owned Māori land, particularly where a large number of people hold small interests.
“It is important that these issues are resolved but we must strike a balance between advancing economic development, and protecting the cultural values Māori place on land. Where people have a meaningful interest in land, they must be treated fairly.
“The process around the review has been poor and gives no assurance that these difficult issues are being addressed carefully.
“The recommendation that responsibility for appointing judges to the court be shifted away from the Minister of Māori Affairs will also raise concerns that Māori will lose their voice in these processes.
“Labour will work to get the balance right between cultural and economic values so that land can be developed while protecting people’s rights and giving them a meaningful voice in decisions about their land. We will improve processes to more easily record and adjudicate the interests in fractionally owned Māori land.”