Myth 1 - The reforms erode Te Tiriti o Waitangi rights
- A strengthened Te Tiriti o Waitangi provision that recognises and provides for the mana and tino rangatiratanga that Māori have exercised and continue to exercise over their lands, resources, and taonga.
- New principles include:
- Te Tiriti o Waitangi is central to the application of laws affecting Māori land
- Māori land endures as a taonga tuku iho by virtue of whakapapa
- Tikanga Māori is central to matters involving Māori land
- Owners of Māori land have the mana motuhake to decide how their land is used
- Owners of Māori land have the right to take advantage of opportunities to whakawhanake their land for the benefit of present and future generations of owners, their whānau, and their hapū.
- Māori version takes precedence in law.
Myth 2 - The reforms are being rushed
- Since 2011 there have been more than 146 hui, with more than 3,000 Māori land owners, trustees, and whānau attending to discuss the reforms.
- Three draft bills have been released for consultation.
- 109 provisions amended and 28 removed as a direct result from feedback on the exposure draft of the Bill in 2015.
- The Bill was introduced on 14th April 2016.
- 152 written submissions, 47 oral submissions were made to the Māori Affairs Select Committee. All Select Committee recommendations were adopted at the Second Reading of the Bill.
Myth 3 - Māori land will be easier to sell
- One of the main principles or Pou of the reforms is taonga tuku iho - land will be retained for the benefit of future generations.
- The Bill makes it harder to sell Māori whenua.
- At present, Māori freehold land can be sold with 75% support from all shareholders.
- This remains the minimum requirement, but owners can choose to increase the threshold up to 100%. This would make sale virtually impossible for multiply owned Māori land.
- The Bill prevents the sale of Māori customary land, whenua tāpui or land converted to collective ownership.
- The Māori Land Court will be able to prevent people using partitions or status changes to circumvent these protections.
Myth 4 - Māori are being forced to utilise their land according to the government’s economic agenda
- Land owners have the mana motuhake to do what they want with their land.
- The Bill provides better support to owners who want to use or develop their land. For example:
- When owners establish a governance body they can decide how they want it to operate and what they want it to do.
- Decision making will be simplified, faster and more efficient.
- The Whenua Māori Fund will support landowners to achieve their aspirations with their land
- Land owners decide what they want to do with their land.
Myth 5 - There will be huge costs and taxes for landowners
- There are no new taxes.
- There is tax relief for existing trusts and incorporations, if they choose to transition to the rangatōpū model.
- All governance bodies (new and existing) will qualify for the Māori authority tax regime.
- The Bill does not impose costs on land owners.
- Decisions on whether there will be fees associated with the services provided by the Māori Land Court or the new Māori Land Service have yet to be made.
Myth 6 - Māori land records will be handed over to LINZ
This information will not reside with LINZ, it will be held by the Māori Land Service. The Māori Land Court will continue to hold its physical records.
- Final decisions on where the governance of the Māori Land Service will sit are yet to be made.
- There is ongoing engagement with Māori landowners on the design of the Māori Land Service.
- Current services will remain through to the start date of the Māori Land Service.
Myth 7 - The current legislation will allow people with no whakapapa connection to make decisions over the land
- The general principle is that only people with a tikanga-based association will be eligible to receive or inherit interests in Māori land.
- Whānau can agree to make provisions for whāngai, as they are now able to determine their own tikanga – this still requires land owners and trustees to make and agree to this provision.
The Bill makes it harder to sell Māori land. At present, Māori freehold land can be sold with 75% support from all shareholders. This remains the minimum requirement, but owners can choose to increase the threshold up to 100%.
Myth 8 - It strips the mana of the Māori Land Court and transfers its powers to a government agency
- The mana of the Māori Land Court as a court of law will be enhanced by having an Act of its own.
- Its jurisdiction will be extended to legal matters under a number of other Acts when Māori land is involved.
- The Judges of the Māori Land Court will continue to be appointed on the advice of the Minister for Māori Development, after consultation with the Attorney-General.
Myth 9 - The Bill denies Māori the right to appeal the agency’s (Māori Land Service) decisions
- The Māori Land Service is a service provider, not a decision maker.
- If an error is made in the register it can be considered by the Māori Land Court Chief Judge and if it’s incorrect it can be corrected.
- If a dispute arises over anything submitted to the MLS the MLS won’t make a decision – it is referred to the dispute resolution service or to the Māori Land Court.
Myth 10 - Land succession process will have no Court involvement
- One of the biggest challenges with Māori whenua is the high number of ownership interests. Whānau often don’t put successions through.
- Landowners of non-Māori land don’t have to go through a court and judge, so why should Māori land owners?
- This is a good example of how we are trying to remove the inequalities that exist for landowners of Māori land under the current law.
- The checks and balances will still be in place, and the Māori Land Court will still be involved where required
Myth 11 - Changes to RMA will badly affect Māori landowners
- The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill includes a number of proposals which aim to improve Māori participation within the resource management system. The key proposals include:
- requiring councils to increase consultation with iwi overall and to do this earlier in plan making processes, and
- inviting iwi to form a Mana Whakahono ā Rohe/Iwi Participation Arrangement with their respective Council(s).
- The Mana Whakahono ā Rohe/Iwi Participation Arrangement will enable iwi and councils to enter into agreements on how iwi can be involved in resource management processes so as to ensure their perspective is heard and understood.
Myth 12 - A small minority of owners will make decisions for the land
- All land owners have the opportunity to take part in decision-making about what happens on their land.
- Owners living away from the land can take part by new technology, e.g. internet.
- Selling, disposing or changing the status of land needs 75% support of all land owners, not just owners who chose to take part, as well as approval by the Māori Land Court.