The Ture Whenua Maori Bill – one step forward …

 MANA Leader Hone Harawira

“The kai was rubbish … but it was worthwhile meeting” said MANA Leader Hone Harawira of a briefing on the Ture Whenua Maori Bill that he and MANA land rights spokesperson Annette Sykes received from the Minister of Maori Development, Te Ururoa Flavell “but we still have major concerns about the bill”

“We acknowledge the positive steps the Minister has taken in trying to protect Maori land from being taken under the Public Works Act, to get access for Maori landowners to landlocked properties, and even his attempts to give tikanga Maori the same legal status as Pakeha land law, but our concerns still remain”

“The bill was not written by Maori with Maori land interests at heart but by Ministry of Justice officials with other priorities in mind (Ministry of Maori Development officials only received the bill at Version 5). The details of the Maori Land Service, which is a key element of the bill, are still very unclear. 50 key Maori knowledge holders will lose their jobs at the Maori Land Court with no guarantee that they will be taken on by the new Service. The bill gives individuals greater say over land development than whanau and hapu. And consultation with Maori has been extremely poor”

“We suggested that perhaps the Minister put forward the more positive elements in an Omnibus Bill which we would support, while allowing more time for Maori to discuss the Ture Whenua Maori bill in greater depth, which is hugely important given that it is the most important rewrite of Maori land law in the past 25 years.

“Te Ururoa has agreed to take our suggestions on board” said Harawira. “Whether that leads to the changes we suggested is another story”

“But straight talk is critical to ensuring the views of the Maori world are heard” said Harawira “and that’s what we got tonight”

“Regardless of our differences, the willingness to share our views openly and honestly shows a strong commitment by both parties to put kaupapa Maori first and to see all Maori seats brought back into Maori hands”