Crown lacks Maori support for law change - Tribunal

10:59 am on 6 February 2016

The Crown does not yet have enough support from Maori to make changes to laws governing Maori land, the Waitangi Tribunal says.

The Tribunal has rushed the release of its draft findings on claims concerning proposed reforms to the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act of 1993.

The government recently made several changes to the proposed legislation and says further consultation hui will be held from next week.

The Tribunal found the Crown will breach Treaty principles if it does not ensure properly informed and broad-based support for the bill to proceed.

It said Maori interest in land was central to the Treaty partnership and the Crown could not simply follow whatever policy it chose.

Minister of Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell said like the Waitangi Tribunal, he took the issue of consultation seriously.

The government has signalled legislation will be introduced to Parliament in coming months but Mr Flavell said it wouldn't be rushed.

"The bill is not even in the house as yet, and that's the first time ever - certainly in the last 11 years of Parliament - that there's ever been an exposure draft given out prior to going into Parliament.

"We're taking it seriously and it's the number one priority for me, as the minister, and I want to make sure we get it right, thus we're taking further initative to ensure that our people get a good overview of the bill into the future."

The new bill is likely to be introduced to Parliament next month.