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Māori land owners left in limbo

The measly figure allocated to the troubled Te Ture Whenua Māori reforms in Budget 2017 are a sign the reforms are a low priority for the Government and will leave many Māori land owners in limbo, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.

“The National Government showed how much they value Māori by only allocating us one per cent of this election year “catch-up” Budget.

“That’s put the Minister of Māori Development in an awkward position because now he’s only got peanuts to throw at his pet project, Te Ture Whenua Māori reforms.

“Since the Budget, the Minister’s been trumpeting big financial benefits for the Māori Land Service (MLS) but it is not new money.

“This year Te Ture Whenua Māori reforms received the paltry sum of less than $2 million in new money.

“The reforms hinge on the MLS as the Minister has been promising land owners that it will answer their calls for easier decision making and expert advice.

“How can land owners know this when we still haven’t seen a business case, or a transitional implementation plan, or real targets and we don’t know what type of structure the MLS will take?

“After nine years of National and the Māori Party, Māori remain overrepresented in bad statistics for health, home ownership and education standards.

“The pitiful slice of the pie given to Vote Māori Development and Te Ture Whenua reforms confirms the Minister is okay with Māori just getting the crumbs.

“All this leaves Māori land owners feeling uncertain and confused around the future of their whenua,” says Meka Whaitiri.