20 Feb 2015

Maori land panel make-up criticised

7:48 pm on 20 February 2015

A Northland regional councillor is criticising the latest stage in plans to change the law surrounding Māori land.

Dover Samuels.

Dover Samuels. Photo: Parliament

Dover Samuels said a group guiding the government in pushing through a bill to replace Te Ture Whenua Māori Act lacked people from smaller whenua-lead land trusts.

Ministers wanted to change legislation, because they said about 80 percent of 1.4 million hectares of it was underused and could be more productive.

'I'm disappointed that...the panel doesn't consist of grassroots people that understand what the real impediments are," Mr Samuels said.

"And when I say grassroots I'm talking about whānau and hapū and I'm talking about individual landowners who have made applications to the Māori Land Court, who understand the impediments, who understand the reasons why these changes are needed...and has been at the coalface of the restriction," he added.

Mr Samuels, a former Minister of Māori Affairs under Labour, said the Northland Regional Council nominated him to become a member of the Ministerial Advisory Group, but he did not make the cut.

The Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell said he was happy with the members of the panel and would not be making any changes to the membership, which was made up of agri-business people, lawyers and academics.