Maori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta said at the weekend changes to Te Ture Whenua Maori Act would support Maori land owners to resolve disputes & build papakainga housing on their whenua.
Parliament gave the changes their third reading last Wednesday.
Ms Mahuta said the changes represented a major step forward in the Government’s whenua Maori programme to help whanau achieve their aspirations for their whenua.
“Maori land owners have unique challenges to developing their land, including complex rules & regulations, multiple ownership in land blocks and people not succeeding to their land interests.
“The passing of Te Ture Whenua Maori (Succession, Dispute Resolution & Related Matters) Amendment Bill ensures the legislation works better for land owners and fixes some of the barriers to succeeding Maori land.”
The new legislation will improve the process for uncontested succession applications, introduces a tikanga-based mediation service to help whanau resolve disputes more quickly, and makes is easier for whanau to use their whenua for housing.
“New & enhanced Maori Land Court processes & services will reduce the time & costs to whanau and encourage more people to connect with their whenua, while the expertise of Maori Land Court judges is harnessed, across a wider range of matters of importance to land owners.
“The new legislation also allows for occupation orders to be granted to beneficiaries of a whanau trust, and removes obstacles to funding for development of papakainga housing on Maori reservations.”
Ms Mahuta said she intended to further support the aspirations of Maori land owners by progressing changes to rating.
The amendments passed this week include:
- Simple & uncontested succession applications agreed by the whole whanau being able to be received, confirmed & recorded by a Maori Land Court registrar, instead of requiring a full court process
- The potential for whanau to resolve disputes through a free tikanga-based mediation service
- Leases & occupation licences on Maori reservations can be granted for longer than 14 years, and occupation orders can be granted to beneficiaries of a whanau trust
- Greater clarification of the process for succession by whangai (children brought up by other than their parents)
- Making it easier for descendants to be involved as land owners in decisionmaking about their whenua when a deceased owner is survived by their spouse or partner
- The Maori Land Court being able to deal with a wider range of matters relating to Maori land and for improvements in the way the Maori Land Court functions in line with other courts. This includes:
- the ability to appoint experts in tikanga Maori & whakapapa
- the ability to hold judicial settlement conferences to resolve disputes
- expanding the remedies available to enforce a decision made by the court
- greater transparency & better alignment of the governance practices of Maori land trusts & incorporations, and
- Other changes that strengthen the protection of & access to whenua Maori.
Attribution: Ministerial release.