20 May 2013

Maori Land Court role could be reduced under new law

7:12 am on 20 May 2013

The Maori Land Court could be stripped of some of its powers if proposed changes to Maori land laws are passed.

Iwi and whanau are being urged to make submissions on a review of the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993.

About 1.4 million hectares of land is Maori owned, some 27,000 blocks, of which 80% of it is underperforming or not being used at all.

The Maori Land Court oversees much of the process to develop these blocks, including granting permission for land use and appointing governors.

Associate Maori Affairs Minister Chris Finlayson says it can take years for anything to be done, and says reducing its role could change that.

He says a lot of the court's work could be performed by an administrative officer.

The Government says there are no plans to dump the Maori Land Court altogether.

Submissions close on 14 June.