29 Jan 2015

Academic says rates for multiple landowners unfair

8:58 am on 29 January 2015

An academic says multiple owners of unproductive Māori land should not have to pay their rates while wealthy non-Māori are given rates holidays by councils.

Margaret Mutu, who is a Māori studies professor at the University of Auckland, believes tāngata whenua are justified in not paying their rates when such a double-standard exists.

But Professor Mutu said if an alternative system such as a capital gains tax was used as the basis for rating land instead, councils would be more likely to get a better return.

Ms Mutu said there were plenty of affluent non-Māori and their companies throughout Northland who were given rates holidays when they were developing their companies. She questioned why that same rule was not applied to Māori as well.

However Northland Regional Councillor and chair of the Te Tai Tokerau Maori advisory committee, Dover Samuels, dismissed her criticisms.

"I'm not surprised at that response from an academic who has very little practical knowledge about local government. She lives in an ivory tower and doesn't understand what local authorities are trying to do hand-in-hand with Māori multiple landowners and bringing it into production.

"Councils have a policy of deferring rates and setting them aside, but it makes no difference what race the person is and rates are deferred for those who really need it."

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