Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell’s announcement just before Christmas of further wānanga on the proposed Maori Land Service (MLS) is premature and meaningless when the MLS still has no confirmed business case, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.
“This announcement was made at 4pm on a Friday afternoon two days before Christmas and is a classic example of the way this Minister operates.
“These wānanga have been an empty political stunt from the start. The first round wrapped up months ago and we’ve still heard nothing from the Minister about their outcomes.
“The MLS is vital to the Minister’s proposed Maori land reforms, yet as multiple submitters critical of the bill have pointed out, there is no real detail on it in the legislation.
“Te Ururoa Flavell says the MLS will answer Maori landowners’ calls for easier decision making, and for expert advice and support.
“Frankly, that’s nonsense when the Minister’s bill has been slammed for its confusing technical complexity, and for achieving little other than severely limiting the judicial responsibilities of the Māori Land Court.
“A business case for the MLS will be presented to the Government next year.
“Right now, we have no confirmed and budgeted business case, no transitional implementation plan, no real targets and no risk management plan.
“Official information I requested in October on the MLS and the first round of wānanga still hasn’t been provided and I’ve been advised I may not receive this until February. I’m now following this up with the Ombudsman.
“For Maori landowners who don’t have the benefit of the Minister’s crystal ball, the MLS is a mysterious gamble they are being asked to invest a lot of faith in.
“One thing we do know for sure: More wānanga are totally meaningless,” says Meka Whaitiri.