Te Ture Whenua Maori Reform - Submissions due by 7 August 2015

Thursday July 16, 2015

Invitation to Report and Make Submissions on Te Ture Whenua Māori Reform

Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua
Māori land reforms

The Government is currently undergoing the most significant overhaul of Te Ture Whenua Māori, the law governing Māori land, since 1993. It has proposed a Bill which, if passed, will become the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 2015. The Bill recommends a three year transition period. By the end of the three year period all Māori who have an interest in Māori land will be affected.

The stated purpose of the new framework is to recognise the significance of Māori land and to make it easier for Māori land owners to use and develop their land according to their aspirations, while ensuring appropriate safeguards for the retention of Māori land as a taonga tuku iho.

The key proposed changes are:

  • All current governance entities including trusts and incorporations will be subsumed by a new governance model, “Rangatōpū”.
  • For lands held by individual shareholders, a minority of engaged owners will be able to make decisions that bind unengaged owners.

Notably missing from the list of key changes are reforms improving:

  • Access to landlocked lands
  • Valuation and rating issues
  • Clarifying the status of historic verbal agreements

While some of the proposed changes will present greater opportunities, others will  have serious implications for land owners, administrators and those who deal with Māori land, such as the power of “engaged owners” to make significant decisions on land utilisation without the necessity for Māori Land Court oversight and approval. This has the potential to create considerable uncertainty for owners and third parties dealing with Māori land in determining who are the engaged owners at any given point in time. It also begs the question, “What duties do the engaged owners owe to their fellow owners? If engaged owners are to have the ability to bind their fellow owners, what is the basis for accountability?”

We are actively looking at the implications of the proposed reforms including:

  • What are the powers, duties and obligations of administrators under the proposed Rangatōpū model?
  • How do these responsibilities impact personal liability and accountability to beneficiaries?
  • How are decisions made and how safe are your assets under the new model?
  • Are there any additional issues facing you in the administration of your lands that are not addressed by the proposed reforms but should be?

Submissions to Te Puni Kokiri to provide feedback on the draft Bill are due by 7 August 2015. If you would like to know more about how the proposed changes affect your interests, or protect your interests by means of the submission process please contact Tania Te Whenua at tania.tewhenua@hobec.co.nz.

Article written by Tania Te Whenua
Click on the following link to see Tania's Interview on Maori Television

Tags in this post: