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Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill

A bill reforming Maori land law introduced on April 14, 2016  and already facing fierce opposition after consultation on the draft. It attempts a policy shift to support land utilisation as determined by the owners themselves. This is done by providing a new framework within which owners of Māori land can determine flexible governance arrangements for their land. It included baseline thresholds for certain decisions, and new dispute resolution procedures. It also attempts to address difficulties in gaining mortgages over jointly owned Maori land. First reading on May 11 was strongly opposed by Labour, Greens and NZ First who argued the bill should be withdrawn and a “flawed” consultation process restarted. They said many Maori feared the bill would see Maori lose ownership of land. The bill completed its first reading by 63 to 58 with National, Maori Party, ACT and United Future in favour. It was sent to the Maori Affairs Committee for consideration. The committee has extended the closing date for public submissions from June 23 to July 14 and a number of other times until November 25. Reported back on November 25 with extensive changes. Even Govt MPs on the select committee expressed some disquiet about the unknown outcomes of  the bill including moving some functions of the Maori Land Court to a new Maori Land Service, as well as the complexity of the Bill. Changes include and extended implementation phase to explain the changes to stakeholders and create the new land service. Opposition parties remained unconvinced by the changes and said it went too far in tipping the balance away from protection of ownership rights and in favour of economic development. Awaiting second reading. Second reading completed on December 13 with Opposition parties still against the Bill and the Government remaining firm. The Bill has been put on the backburner while the Government worked on amendments in response to criticism. Amongst the changes announced to be made during the committee stage include include amendments to the Public Works Act, rating of Maori land and the Family Protection Act. The changes to the Public Works Act will require authorities to have a strong justification to acquire Maori land, and where possible the amount of land taken and the interest in the land should be minimised. The changes to rating will provide for papakainga housing on marae to be non-rateable for up to two dwellings. The Bill will now restore the Maori Land Court’s jurisdiction under the Family Protection Act when claims relate to estates with interests in Maori freehold land. Committee stage began and was interrupted on May 3 with MPs only part way into the long bill and indicating it would take a long time to complete with Opposition MPs contesting many parts of the Bill. Committee stage debate continued on May 30, May 31 and June 21 with MPs making slow progress.  The Committee stage debate continued on July 4 and 5 with MPs still on part 6 of the Bill, which has 16 parts plus schedules. The Maori Party has conceded there won’t be time to pass the Bill before the election after it turned down an offer from National to use the Govt’s numbers to push it through under Urgency. The new Government announced on Dec 22, 2017 it would not be be proceeding with the Bill and it would be discharged  Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill