31 Mar 2017

Attacks on Māori land bill are 'lies' - Flavell

7:47 am on 31 March 2017

Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell has hit back at what he says are lies being told about his Māori land law bill.

Te Ururoa Flavell and Hone Harawira.

Te Ururoa Flavell and Hone Harawira Photo: RNZ

Mr Flavell said the Ture Whenua Māori Bill would give Māori landowners greater autonomy, better protection under the law and more support to develop the land if that was what the owners wanted.

But it has been criticised by Labour, which calls it dysfunctional, and has promised to repeal it if in government while New Zealand First said it was elitist and would disadvantage Māori.

The leader of the Māori Party's new political ally, Mana Party's Hone Harawira, said the bill was a "poisonous and destructive cancer".

Yesterday, when announcing some final changes to the bill, Mr Flavell hit back.

"People have got to stop playing politics with our land, our people expect better of those representatives of political parties, Māori in particular, to play games with our whenua.

"All I can say to those political parties is, listen to our people - they want change."

And Mr Flavell said Mr Harawira had jumped the gun by commenting on the bill before it was ready for its third reading.

"There's been some straight out-and-out lies that have been put out about the bill, on the back of people talking about a bill that was back six months ago, there's been a number of changes all the way through the select committee process," Mr Flavell said.

"I accepted every one of the recommendations that came from the select committee process."

Mr Flavell said a number of Mr Harawira's comments about the Ture Whenua Māori Bill were inaccurate.

"For example, around the Treaty of Waitangi and the part that plays in the legislation ... judges must take consideration of the Treaty of Waitangi in any consideration of our public works.

"The second part is that his criticism came before the new parts of the bill that have just came through Cabinet - so the downside is he hasn't been able to benefit from sighting those particular changes."

Those changes, made to the bill before it has its third reading in Parliament in April, included changing the way Māori freehold land could be acquired under the Public Works Act, and how Māori land was rated.

Another change would give the Māori Land Court the power to decide if whānau members have been treated fairly when a member died.

Mr Flavell said these would further strengthen the protection mechanisms for Māori land.

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