Minister’s comments leaves hui value in doubt

Comments made by the Māori Development Minister about the Crown’s planned changes to Māori land legislation have reinforced the lack of support for the reforms and called into question the value of the consultation hui, says Labour’s MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Meka Whaitiri.

“In the last few days I have attended six consultation hui in Whakatane, Te Kaha, Tokomaru Bay, Gisborne, Wairoa and Hastings.

“The overwhelming message to the Crown from attendees has been: ‘Slow down – this process is being rushed and much more consultation is needed.’

“Te Ururoa Flavell is clearly under a lot of pressure to sell these unpopular reforms.

“At the Gisborne hui the Minister reminded attendees that with National's 59 votes and two from his Māori Party, he has the support to pass the Bill through Parliament.

“These hui have been more about hard-selling the Crown’s case for changes to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act than any genuine attempt at consultation; the Minister’s comments reveal how hollow this ‘consultation’ process actually is.

“Te Ururoa Flavell has been met with such widespread opposition that he made an on-the-spot concession at the Gisborne hui to wait until after the release of the final Waitangi Tribunal report before progressing with his Bill.

“If the Minister is serious about getting this right, he needs to fund an independent landowners’ advisory committee. The landowners’ group must then have sufficient time to assess the report themselves.

“That's the level of consultation he owes to Māori landowners – not a done deal,” says Meka Whaitiri.