The Second Reading in Parliament tonight of Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill is the unwelcome Christmas gift Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell has prepared for Māori landowners, whose widespread opposition to this unpopular legislation he has consistently ignored, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.
“The Labour Party stands with Māori landowners and organisations who strongly oppose this bill.
“This is the single most significant piece of current legislation affecting Māori and it’s a shame its main principles will now be debated so close to Christmas, when many landowners will be winding down and preparing for the festive season.
“Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell should have never allowed the bill to progress this far, and he has done so by ignoring the passionate opposition from Māori landowners, Māori institutions, numerous legal experts and even the Human Rights Commission.
“For the last eight years this National Government and its support partner the Māori Party have made their priorities clear.
“Providing quality housing, jobs and healthcare, giving people a fair share of economic growth, keeping our communities safe and reducing the appalling number of tamariki in poverty are not the priorities; instead, their agenda is one of privatisation and enabling a corporate elite.
“The Minister should have withdrawn this bill because it lacks broad support, fails to address the real obstacles to development, and instead guts the responsibilities of the Māori Land Court and risks further alienation of land.
“Māori landowners have been badly let down by Te Ururoa Flavell, who forgets that a major part of leadership is the ability to listen and back down when needed.
“The Second Reading of Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill is one unwelcome Christmas gift that Māori landowners will want returned to sender,” says Meka Whaitiri.