In the upheaval of the past two months, I had completely forgotten about the ongoing review of Te Ture Whenua Māori 1993. It appears that a lot of other people also forgot about it because Te Puni Kokiri have announced that the deadline for submissions on their discussion document (available here: http://www.tpk.govt.nz/en/consultation/ttwma/?Action=View) have been pushed back to June 14.
The aim of the exercise is to review the Act with the aim of increasing the utilisation of Māori land. This is an issue that I have written about previously (available here: http://roiamaori.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/8/) As I wrote at the time:
Ideally, any review of the Act will allow for a greater role of the collective in relation to Maori land and recognise that the listed owners are not always the only people who have an interest in that land. A more hapu based approach (or regional approach such as that adopted by the Parininihi ki Waitotara Incorporation) will allow for increased utilisation and development without sacrificing the importance of retaining Maori land in Maori hands.
Changing the law will only go so far, as the MAF report rightly points out – the most effective way to improve the utilisation of Maori land is through improving the skills of those who own and manage the land and improving the access to development finance.
Which is why I have my concerns that the review appears to be favouring reforms that allow for development to occur according to the wishes of “engaged owners” and that the further fragmentation of Māori land should be discouraged. When you stop and think about that, it sounds awfully similar to the 10 owner policy of the late 1800s.
There are some big issues up for discussion with respect to Māori land. While several reviews have been conducted since the 1993 Act, none have resulted in substantial reforms. Our next chance to have a say on how the law is working for the effective retention and utilisation of our last remaining land could be another generation away. Thankfully, we have all been given a second chance to provide our commentary of the discussion document. Let us not waste this chance.
I would be interested in hearing from any of my readers who have submitted feedback on the discussion document, or who plan to. It would be good to korero with you about the proposals and formulate a strong and considered response.