20 Aug 2017

Te Tai Hauāuru: the Te Wero debate

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:06 pm on 20 August 2017
Jack McDonald, Adrian Rurawhe, Howie Tamati

Jack McDonald, Adrian Rurawhe, Howie Tamati Photo: Green Party, Labour Party, Maori Party

Candidates for the Māori seat of Te Tai Hauāuru debate water rights, seabed mining, homelessness, economic policies, welfare and Treaty settlements.

Participants: Sitting MP Labour’s Adrian Rurawhe, Māori Party candidate Howie Tamati and Green Party candidate Jack McDonald. Chaired by Wena Harawira and recorded at Pataka Art Museum in Porirua.

The Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill proposed the establishment of the Māori Land Service, leading to major changes to the governance and administration of the 27,000 titles of Māori land.

Introducing the controversial bill, the Minister of Māori Development (and leader of the Māori Party) Te Ururoa Flavell said it was intended to make it easier for Māori land-owners to make decisions about how they use and develop their land, while also protecting their cultural interests.

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Photo: House of Representatives

According to the Māori Party candidate for Te Tai Hauāuru Howie Tamati, anything’s better than what Māori have now. The Te Ture Whenua Bill was brought in as a document of change, but, he says, it’s not finished yet:

“Te Ururoa took it off the table because he didn’t want to rush it through [Parliament] like the seabed and foreshore legislation. There have been over 300 meetings that he’s talked to different people about changes. It’s such an important act.”

Labour candidate and sitting MP Adrian Ruawhere dismisses any talk of it being off the table. “It’s sitting on Parliament’s table,” he says.

“They’ve just pushed pause because they can’t get it through in this Parliament. That’s the truth of it.” He is also critical of what he sees as the constitutionally unprincipled way the Māori Party has handled the matter, complaining that a 467-page document was added as a supplementary order paper after the select committee process had ended.

“So it hasn’t been scrutinised by the Select committee. Were it to be in power post-election, Labour would repeal it, “because it hasn’t taken the people with it.”

The Green Party’s Jack McDonald credits Flavell with not having rushed the legislation through Parliament under urgency.

But he still opposes it: “He has pursued these reforms for many years without the broad support of Māori. Which is why we don’t support it. It’s not about the number of huis. It’s about what you’re hearing at the huis.”

The primary goal of any land reform, he argues, should be to retain the small amount of Māori land that is in Māori ownership. For that reason, the Greens also vow to repeal the bill in future.

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This programme was produced by Te Whakaruruhau o Ngā Reo Irirangi Māori and supported by Te Māngai Paho and the Māori Media Network.