4 Jun 2013

Maori Land Act review raises land fragmentation issues

6:33 am on 4 June 2013

A member of the review panel for Te Ture Whenua Maori Act says meetings with iwi are making Maori land owners think about their connection with the land.

An independent review panel was appointed by the Government in May last year to develop new legalisation and to ask for feedback from Maori landowners about the Act, which has been in force for the last 20 years.

It's been talking to iwi around the country - and plans to visit more.

Review panel member, Toko Kapea, who is a director at the Tuia Group, says there are questions about fragmentation - which involves sharing parcels of land.

He says some Maori still support fragmentation, while others don't.

He says the hui (meetings) have given land owners time to think about how they actually relate to the whenua.

Mr Kapea says some Maori don't mind fragmentation because it allows the land to be divided amongst their children which keeps the whakapapa (genealogical connection) still intact.

But he says for others it's an issue because more fragmentation means more administration costs and it makes it more difficult to reach other shareholders to make decisions.

The panel's five propositions include:

  • Utilisation - the concept of "engaged owner" to give those who put their hands up the ability to make decisions;
  • Effective administration - when land owners are not engaged, an external manager may be appointed to manage;
  • Fit for purpose governance - promoting the idea that good governance is critical to the management of Maori land, and rules around the appointment of governors being suggested;
  • Enabling institutional framework - whether the Maori Land Court is still relevant; and,
  • Fragmentation - whether it should be discouraged or other alternative options to consider.

Written submissions are due soon on 14 June.

The panel will consider the feedback from the hui, and is expected to report back to the Associate Minister of Maori Affairs in the next few months.