Minister defends Ture Whenua consultation process

By Harata Brown

The Minister for Māori Development says anyone who disagrees with Te Ture Whenua reforms can still send through their feedback about the process.

This comes after the Minister was accused of telling a recent consultation meeting that the government has the numbers to pass the legislation.

Te Ururoa Flavell says, “No I won't say yes or no. At the end of the day, I presented to the meeting, there is a time where this will reach Parliament. When that time comes, then it will be determined whether or not this is passed through 61 votes.”

The Minister has been accused of telling a Gisborne consultation hui that the government has the numbers to pass the legislation. Māori landowner Marise Lant is worried that no matter what Māori landowners say, it won't make a difference.

"Right now it's one sided, right now there's an agenda on the table and right now Māori land owners are not making the decision," says Lant.

But the Minister claims the process is not over.

“This is opened to the public, through submitting feedback on paper, through presentations before the Māori Affairs Select Committee.

Most people are informed about the basis of the consultation rounds. 

There are still some who don't agree but they can still send through their feedback,” says Flavell.

There are 20 consultation hui being held around the country this month. But Labour's Meka Whaitiri says the process is being led by the Crown, not the people.

"They pick the dates, they pick the venues, they pick the presentations and Māori land owners don't have a say,” says Whaitiri.

The Minister has also dismissed criticism that the bill does not protect Māori land from mortgage or sale. He says if anything, protection will be even tighter than what currently exists.