Maori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki wants local bodies to hand back some of the Maōri land they have seized for unpaid rates over the past century.
He told Te Ao Tapatahi that the passing of the Local Government Rating of Whenua Māori Amendment Act through Parliament this week was a “great first step.”
“Rates on Māori land have been a massive issue for a very long time. We’ve seen councils go to the district courts and seize or use that land for years.
“It’s been a nefarious form of raupatu (confiscation) that’s been occurring for a long time.
Tukaki said he would like to see a scheme “where some of that debt is not only forgiven but a pathway for remediation where some of that land might be returned to whanau or iwi Māori and I don’t just mean put in a landbank for some future settlement for iwi but actually return to the original landowner.”
The Local Government Rating of Whenua Māori Amendment Act is a radical reshaping of Maori land law, which:
- makes unused Māori land, including land subject to Ngā Whenua Rāhui kawenata, unrateable;
- provides an option for separate rate accounts for multiple homes on Māori land (giving homeowners access to the rates rebate scheme); and
- provides the opportunity for local authorities to treat multiple blocks of Māori land as one block for rating purposes, provided they come from the same original block;
- modernises the rating system affecting Māori land, including protecting Māori land arbitrarily reclassified as general land in the late 1960s and early 1970s from ‘abandoned land sales’, clarifying land trustees’ obligations to pay rates, and updating and clarifying the exemptions that apply to marae and urupā.