The Māori Purposes Bill 2011: Four New Māori Affairs Acts

The Māori Trust Boards Amendment Act 2011

<p>A Māori Purposes Bill is an omnibus bill amending legislation relating to Māori affairs. The passage of the Māori Purposes Bill 2011 has resulted in the enactment of four new Acts: The Māori Trust Boards Amendment Act 2011, The Māori Purposes Act 2011, Te Ture Whenua Māori Amendment Act 2011 and the Māori Fisheries Amendment Act 2011. </p> <p>These Acts, which came into force on the 16 September 2011, make a range of important changes to legislation affecting Māori: </p> <ul> <li> The Māori Trust Boards Amendment Act 2011 has amended the Māori Trust Boards Act 1955 to provide for direct accountability between Trust Boards and their beneficiaries; </li> <li> The Māori Purposes act 2011 removes Crown involvement in the administration of the Pukepuke Tangiora Estate and extends the distribution period for the Estate; </li> <li> Te Ture Whenua Māori Amendment Act 2011 sets out minor technical changes to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 and the Māori Incorporations Constitution Regulations 1994; and </li> <li> The Māori fisheries Amendment Act 2011 has amended the Māori Fisheries Act 2004. It enables the transfer of Mandated Iwi Organisation status and fisheries settlement assets from an existing Mandated Iwi Organisation to another separate entity of the same iwi, and exempts this transfer from the protective provisions of the Māori Fisheries Act that would require their sale. </li> </ul> <p>A copy of the Regulatory Impact Statement relating to the Māori Purposes Bill produced by Te Puni Kōkiri on 25 May 2010 can be found here. </p>

The Māori Trust Boards Amendment Act 2011 has amended the Māori Trust Boards Act 1955 to provide for direct accountability between Trust Boards and their beneficiaries.

Background

Historically, Māori Trust Boards were created to receive compensation from the early settlement of grievances against the Crown. The Māori Trust Boards Act 1955 was enacted to standardise the administration of Māori Trust Boards and the use of Trust Board assets in the promotion of the welfare of their beneficiaries.

Māori Trust Boards have a wide discretion in administering their assets, so to protect the interest of their beneficiaries, the Māori Trust Boards Act 1955 required Māori Trust Boards to be accountable to the Minister of Māori Affairs for their financial arrangements. In particular, Māori Trust Boards were required to:

  • Have their financial statements (including balance sheets) audited by the Auditor-General;
  • Receive their audited accounts from the Auditor-General via the Minister of Māori Affairs, who was empowered to make comments on them; and
  • Send their annual budget and other financial information to the Minister of Māori Affairs for approval.

In the modern environment it is more appropriate for Māori Trust Boards to be directly accountable to their beneficiaries rather than to the Minister of Māori Affairs.

New amendments

The Māori Trust Boards Amendment Act 2011 amends the Māori Trust Boards Act 1955 to provide for direct accountability between Trust Boards and their beneficiaries, the changes:

  • require each Māori Trust Board to hold an Annual General Meeting to report to its beneficiaries on its activities and plans for the future, including the presentation of audited annual accounts and budgets;
  • replace the requirement for each Māori Trust Board to be audited by the Auditor-General, with a requirement that each Māori Trust Board have its financial accounts audited no less than five months after the end of the financial year to which they relate through private audit.
  • remove the Minister of Māori Affairs’ direct role in holding Māori Trust Boards to account, including the requirement that the Minister approve Trust Boards’ annual budgets. Instead, each Māori Trust Board is now required to supply the Minister of Māori Affairs with its audited accounts for information only.

The Minister of Māori Affairs retains the power to direct an investigation into the affairs of any Māori Trust Board. This provides an avenue for beneficiaries to raise any concerns they may have with their Māori Trust Board with an external party.

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