Te Puni Kokiri

Te reo ka pīrangitia: Māori English

Te reo ka pīrangitia: Māori English

What is the purpose of the Bill?

The purpose of the Bill is to recognise and provide for the mana and tino rangatiratanga that since time immemorial Māori have exercised and continue to exercise over their lands, resources, and taonga in accordance with tikanga Māori and, consistent with the guarantees given to Māori in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, to protect the right of owners of Māori land to retain, control, occupy, and develop their land as a taonga tuku iho for the benefit of present and future generations of owners, their whānau, and their hapū.

The changes to the Bill will clarify Māori land law; put in place additional protection to safeguard the ownership of Māori land; and deal with inequities which remain in current legislation

What are the Ture Whenua Māori reforms?

There are three pou that inform the reforms about Te Ture Whenua Māori, they are:

Taonga tuku iho

The reforms:

  • Provide greater protection against land sales and alienation.
  • Prohibit the sale or gifting of collectively owned Māori freehold land.
  • Reinforce association to the land through whakapapa.
  • Enable individual shares to be moved to collective models.
  • Enable rigorous accountability of governance entities.

Mana motuhake

The reforms:

  • Enable more decision making by the owners without requiring Court approval.
  • Encourage owner participation and decision-making.
  • Enable owners to design their own governance structure.
  • Create choice - trusts can stay as they are; or transition.
  • Provide for parties to agree to their own outcomes in any disputes.

Whakawhanake

The reforms:

  • Create an enhanced new Māori land register for accurate & accessible records and for transacting successions and transfers of individual interests.
  • Provide easier ways to set up whānau trusts to avoid fragmentation.
  • Provide a fairer system of rating Māori land.
  • Enable Māori land owners, trustees, and whānau to get support from experts from the new Māori Land Service.
  • Continue the Māori Land Court, retaining the Court’s expertise.
  • Provide support and resource to landowners to develop their land if they wish to do so.

The Bill also already removes long-standing barriers associated with whenua Māori. It provides for:

  • A new framework for adjusting rating valuations
  • The ability for councils to develop policies for the non-rating (and write off of rates arrears) of unused and unoccupied land
  • Removal of the two hectare limit for marae and urupā non-rateability
  • Ngā Whenua Rāhui covenanted land to be non-rateable
  • Greater owner participation in decisions about their land
  • The Māori Land Court to have extended jurisdiction to deal with matters involving Māori land
  • Māori Land Court Judge to chair the Land Valuation Tribunal when dealing with matters relating to Māori land

Will the reforms make it easier to alienate Māori land?

No. The Bill makes it harder to sell whenua Māori.

One of the main principles or pou of the reforms is taonga tuku iho - land will be retained for the benefit of future generations.

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 (e.g. changing the land from being Māori freehold land) to work around these protections.

Will this get rid of the Māori Land Court (MLC)?

No. The changes to the Bill refocus the jurisdiction of the court so that it deals with matters of law and it ensures due process is followed for key decisions such as the disposition of land. The Bill reduces its administrative role e.g. changing a persons name on a Trust deed – this supports the Māori Land Court to focus on matters of law.

Why can’t the MLC pick up the work of the proposed Māori Land Service?

The Māori Land Court is a judical court. The Bill supports the Court to focus on the law, and for the existing administrative services to be enhanced outside the court.

The Māori Land Service will deliver four core services:

  • Māori Land Information and Registry Services – maintaining and updating register, ownership and governance information.
  • Advisory and Development Services – advice relating to productive utilisation of land.
  • Owner Decision Making Services – service to support owners in relation to their interests and to establish effective governance and management arrangements for their land.
  • Dispute Resolution Services – service to resolve disputes relating to land based on tikanga Māori.

Changes made by the Bill

Will the reforms erode Te Tiriti o Waitangi rights?

No. The Bill provides for a strengthened Te Tiriti o Waitangi clause 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.

The reo Māori version takes precedence in law.

Aren’t the reforms being rushed?

No. 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, and 152 written submissions and 47 oral submissions were made to the Māori Affairs Select Committee. All Select Committee recommendations were adopted at the Second Reading of the Bill.

Are Māori being forced to utilise their land?

No. Land owners have the mana motuhake to do what they want with their land.

The Bill provides better support to owners who do 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.

Does the Bill impose new taxes or costs on land owners?

No. The Bill does not impose new costs or taxes 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.

Why does Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 need to be changed?

Although the current Act was significant, thousands of owners remain disconnected from their land and fragmentation is getting worse, not better.

While some trusts and incorporations are doing well, many are struggling and the current Act does little to support small, unmanaged blocks.

The current Act does not contain a dispute resolution mechanism, and requires the Māori Land Court to spend too much of its time on administration instead of focusing on judicial issues.

Why did the Government decide to adopt a whole new Bill and not just amend the current Act?

In the last 150 years, almost 200 different laws and amendments have been passed affecting Māori land law. As a result, Te Ture Whenua Māori Act inherited a patchwork of complex rules, many of which were designed to serve objectives that are now outdated and no longer relevant.

To create the most accessible, fit for purpose and durable approach, Te Ture Whenua Māori Act review panel recommended full legislative reform. This provides the most effective framework for improvement, particularly around empowered owner decision-making and Māori land governance.

Positive aspects of the current Act that are working will be retained in a modern and updated bill.

Succession

How can I trust that my land will be looked after when I die?

It will be up to the whānau of a deceased owner to make sure the owner’s land interests are succeeded to for future generations. If the owner has left a will then as long as the successors are eligible whānau members the land interests will pass to them. If the owner does not leave a will a whānau trust will be established and the land interests will continue to be held for the benefit of the whānau. If the land is managed by a governance body it will continue to be managed by the governance body.

Won’t the current legislation allow people with no whakapapa connection to make decisions over the 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 general principle is that only people with a tikanga-based association will be eligible to receive or inherit interests in Māori land.

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%.

Will the land succession process have Court involvement?

One of the biggest challenges with Māori whenua is the high number of ownership interests. Whānau often don’t put successions through. Owners 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.

Māori Land Court

What will happen to the Māori Land Court?

The Māori Land Court will continue to be the judicial body responsible for making sure the law relating to whenua Māori is observed and owners of Māori land will continue to have access to the Māori Land Court when they have legal disputes or issues. This includes:

  • Dealing with matters referred to it by the proposed Māori Land Service. This could happen when the status of a piece of land needs to be clarified or a dispute hasn’t been able to be resolved through the dispute resolution process.
  • Determining and changing the status of Māori customary land and Māori freehold land.
  • Ruling on matters related to selling or leasing Māori land.
  • Considering applications to grant access to landlocked Māori freehold land.
  • Making orders to correct inaccuracies in the Māori Land Register.

The Māori Land Court will no longer deal with successions, vestings and applications to establish governance structures like trusts or incorporations. The proposed Māori Land Service would facilitate and register such decisions.

The status of the Māori Land Court as a court of law will be enhanced by having an Act of its own and having its jurisdiction 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.

Should there be judicial oversight over the decisions of participating owners to stop them affecting the property rights of Māori land owners, trustees and whānau?

Empowering Māori land owners, trustees and whānau to make and act on their own decisions is a fundamental aspect of the reforms. Property rights will continue to have strong protections through high decision thresholds of all owners for permanent alienations such as sale or change of land status.

The Māori Land Court remains involved in ensuring things are done lawfully and in accordance with due process but it will not be the role of the court to second-guess the merits of a decision made by the owners.

Who will maintain the court records?

The Māori Land Court will continue to be the court of record and will keep the information in the record safe. The Court will continue to provide access to information in the Māori Land Court record, including to the Māori Land Service.

Will Māori land owners, trustees and whānau be eligible for financial assistance to help them access the Act?

The Māori Land Court special aid fund will continue to be available to assist parties with matters dealt with by the court.

Don’t the reforms strip the mana of the Māori Land Court and transfers its powers to a government agency?

The current Act does not contain a dispute resolution mechanism, and requires the Māori Land Court to spend much of its time on administration instead of focusing on judicial issues. The Bill provides clarity in terms of provisions for a Māori land register, dispute resolution processes and registering owners’ decision-making.

The status of the Māori Land Court as a court of law will be enhanced by having an Act of its own and having its jurisdiction 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.

Māori Land Service

What is the Māori Land Service?

The Māori Land Service will be a new organisations that provides a range of integrated services. It will be a single doorway to provide practical Support to Māori land owners, trustees and whānau to provide them with the necessary tools to look after their whenua as they see fit.

More than 1,000 Māori land owners, including large incorporations and trusts, have taken part in consultation on the Māori Land Service.

The Service will deliver four core services:

  • Māori Land Information and Registry Services – maintaining and updating register, ownership and governance information.
  • Advisory and Development Services – advice relating to productive utilisation of land.
  • Owner Decision Making Services – service to support owners in relation to their interests and effective governance and management arrangements for their land.
  • Dispute Resolution Services – service to resolve disputes relating to land based on tikanga Māori.

More work is being undertaken on the detail of the design and delivery of the Māori Land Service.

Who asked for a new Māori Land Service?

The proposal for a Māori Land Service is, together with other aspects of Te Ture Whenua Māori reforms, a response to the long standing wishes of Māori land owners, trustees and whānau for tino rangatiratanga, and mana motuhake over their land. This has been expressed through numerous reviews, hui and wānanga over the past 20 years.

The Māori Land Service will support owner decision-making.

Where will the Māori Land Service be located?

The exact location of the Service has still to be finalised, but stakeholder engagement, including wānanga have been held across the motu for Māori land owners, trustees and whānau to share and provide feedback about how they will access administrative services currently provided by Land Information New Zealand and Te Puni Kōkiri. The Ministry of Justice will continue to provide administrative support to the Māori Land Court in the exercise of its refocused jurisdiction.

What information will be held by the Māori Land Service?

The Māori Land Service will be required to maintain a register, which will be known as the Māori Land Register.

The Register will be a comprehensive register of all Māori land title and ownership information as well as governance arrangements, with features similar to the current record. It will have statutory backing and safeguards, be readily accessible, and will operate in close alignment with the land titles register.

Most dealings affecting Māori land will move from being court orders to being instruments generated outside the court, and it is a core function of government to provide an authoritative register.

Will Māori land records 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.

What’s the difference between the Māori Land Court and the Māori Land Service?

The Māori Land Court is a court of law. It deals with matters within its jurisdiction that are judicial in character and involve powers of decision. The Māori Land Service will deal with administrative processes to ensure Māori land owners, trustees and whānau have the support they need to get information about their land, make their own decisions, resolve their disputes and register their land transactions, such as governance arrangements and successions.

When will these changes take effect?

18 months after Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill has passed the Third Reading and received Royal Assent it will come into force. That is also when the Māori Land Service will come into effect, ensuring the continuity of services for Māori land owners, trustees and whānau.

Does the Bill deny 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.

Related Issues

Will the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill affect Māori land owners?

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 an 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.

What’s happening with the Whenua Māori Fund?

The Government is committed to providing tangible support to Māori land owners, trustees and whānau. As a first step towards supporting Māori land owners, trustees and whānau, Te Minita Whanaketanga Māori announced a new Whenua Māori Fund to help Māori land owners, trustees and whānau improve the productivity of their land.

The fund supports Māori landowners to utilise their land as they see fit. It guarantees $12.8 million over four years. The fund opened in 2016 and has invested $4.4 million in 40 projects.

Initiatives cover a wide range of activities like agriculture, apiculture, energy, forestry, horticulture, and tourism.

You can contact your regional Te Puni Kōkiri office to access and to apply for the fund.

What is happening next with the Ture Whenua Māori reforms?

  • Stakeholder engagement on the Māori Land Service will continue.
  • Groups interested in providing MLS services to Māori land owners will have opportunities to provide expressions of interest and detailed proposals to the MLS programme team.
  • Current services to Māori land owners will remain through to the start date of the Māori Land Service.
  • Work is continuing to remove long-standing barriers.
  • There will be ongoing work to develop Māori Land Court rules as well as regulations to give effect to the Bill. These will be in place prior to the Bill’s commencement.

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