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Delivering for Maori and the whenua - Mahuta

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Government has today announced a strategic investment into the development of whenua, Māori freehold landowners and their whānau.

"Our focus is on stimulating social and economic development through the 1.4 million hectares of whenua Māori that remains in Māori freehold title," says Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

"The Whenua Māori Programme recognises the challenges facing Māori freehold landowners and the value of pursuing opportunities which will lead to the sustainable and intergenerational development of the land and its people."

Budget 2019 allocates $56.1 million over four years towards implementing the Whenua Māori Programme that Minister Mahuta announced in February this year.

The investment in the Whenua Māori Programme will enable regional on-the-ground advisory services in Te Tai Tokerau, Waiariki and Te Tairāwhiti; the creation of a Whenua Knowledge Hub and website; new and enhanced services for the Māori Land Court; the modernisation of the Māori Land Court information systems and support for legislative amendments to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993.

Minister Mahuta says the Programme will support Māori landowners, trustees and whānau across the spectrum, from those who are establishing ownership interests and governance structures through to owners who are ready to expand their operations and seek opportunities. This includes those landowners who are ready to apply to the Provincial Growth Fund.

The cross-government programme is being co-led by Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development) and the Ministry of Justice.

Justice Minister Andrew Little says the changes proposed for the Māori Land Court will better support landowners to access justice services.

"The introduction of a tikanga-focussed dispute resolution service offers Māori landowners a way to settle matters outside of a formal court hearing," says Minister Little.

Minister Little said that Māori landowners had told him that they feel the effort of engaging with the Court can outweigh the benefits.

"I want people who come to the Māori Land Court to feel they have more choices and control. This investment gives us an opportunity to take advantage of modern technologies and services to provide landowners with a better experience."

Targeted amendments to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 focused on simplifying the succession process, establishing a dispute resolution mechanism and improving services in the Māori Land Court, which will be introduced into Parliament later this year.

Minister Mahuta says, "this is an exciting and ambitious programme that I expect will significantly lift the intergenerational wellbeing of Māori landowners, their descendants and their regions for many years to come."

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