10 Jun 2012

Land review panel to address red tape

10:09 am on 10 June 2012

One of the four panellists reviewing the Ture Whenua Maori Land Act says one of the key areas they will address is cutting down the red tape for Maori shareholders so they can start using their whenua more productively.

Maori landowners are frustrated that they can't build homes or commercial businesses on their whanau estates because the land is communally owned and permission must be sought from at least 75% of the beneficiaries.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson has appointed an expert panel of Maori lawyers and company directors to make recommendations on where improvements can be made to support owners of Maori land to reach their aspirations.

A Crown report last year backed up evidence that 80% of Maori freehold land is under-developed - some of it covered in gorse and going to waste.

Panel member Toko Kapea says there will be a consultation process with Maori landowners to see what can be amended at a legislative level, and how attitudes and behaviours can change which are also stifling land development.

He says it is a good time to review the Act which was drafted in the 1970s during a different political era, and make it more relevant.

The expert review panel will be chaired by lawyer Matanuku Mahuika of Ngati Porou.

The other members are: Tokorangi Kapea of Ngati Apa and Te Atihaunui-a-Paparangi, Patsy Reddy, and Dion Tuuta of Ngati Mutunga.

The panel will deliver its recommendations in December.