29 Jul 2008

Questions over planned Maori economic agency

4:30 pm on 29 July 2008

The National Party says the Government is attempting to pilfer money from the Maori Trust Office to set up a separate Maori economic development agency.

National is opposing legislation which is currently before Parliament and designed to revamp the Maori Trust Office.

The economic development agency Maori Business Aotearoa New Zealand would be established using $35 million from the trust office's general purposes fund.

National MP Tau Henare says members of the Maori Affairs select committee were "gobsmacked" when the Maori Trustee, John Paki, told them he opposed money being taken from his office.

But Cabinet minister Shane Jones says Mr Paki has been closely involved in the process and supports the concept of the new agency.