New Zealand Law Society - Waitangi Tribunal reports on Te Ture Whenua Māori Act claims

Waitangi Tribunal reports on Te Ture Whenua Māori Act claims

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The Waitangi Tribunal has released its Report on Claims about the Reform of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 in pre-publication format.

The report is the outcome of three claims from Māori landowners.

The Tribunal considers the review and reform process leading up to a new bill to replace the 1993 Act, which the Crown intends to introduce to Parliament in March 2016. The bill proposes to replace existing protections for landowners exercised by the Māori Land Court with a new regime empowering participating owners.

Its report finds that the Crown would be in breach of Treaty principles if it does not ensure there is properly-informed broad-based support from Māori for the new bill to proceed.

The Tribunal says Māori landowners, and their whānau, hapū, and iwi, will be prejudiced if the 1993 Act us repealed "against their wishes, and without ensuring adequate and appropriate arrangements for all the matters governed by that Act".

The Tribunal recommends that the Crown avoid prejudice to Māori by engaging further nationally via hui and written submissions, after ensuring that Māori are properly informed by means of empirical research. 

The Tribunal also makes a number of other general and specific recommendations to the Crown concerning both the review and reform process and the new Bill.