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Minister mangles Māori land reforms

The Minister of Māori Development must make amends for botching what was supposed to be his stellar policy move with Māori land reform, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.

“Opposition continues to mount against Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill and the Minister must show leadership and admit he has no mandate to continue pushing through the reforms.

“The chair of Wakatu Incorporated represents 4,000 shareholders and is the latest in a long line of Māori land experts calling for change while opposing the bill.

“What’s even worse is that Hone Harawira is calling the bill a poisonous and destructive cancer. This, from the Māori Party’s ally which shows splits and divisions and a sinking Mana Māori waka.

“Wakatu Incorporated and Mr Harawira join the ranks of the widespread opposition from small whanau trusts, large incorporations, Māori institutions such as the Māori Women’s Welfare League, legal experts, opposition parties, academics, workers’ unions and even the Human Rights Commission.

“The Minister must start listening. The consultation process was botched because Māori land owners weren’t given enough time to consider all the technical complexities and legal ramifications.

“The Minister should have listened to the Māori Land Court judges and the Waitangi Tribunal who found the Bill, in its current form, could have breached the Treaty of Waitangi.

“Instead of taking a robust legal approach to investigating these reforms, the Minister made 130 amendments and removed 30 clauses without pausing for breath.

“That’s not a considered approach to legislation; that’s policy on the fly. This is emperor’s new clothes stuff; no one seriously believes this Bill has broad support except for Mr Flavell.

“We’ve listened. A Labour Government will repeal the Bill and work to protect and retain Māori land, and help Māori tap into the potential billion dollar opportunities,” says Meka Whaitiri.