Today, the Māori Development Minister, Te Ururoa Flavell, met with several mayors from across the country to discuss the Ture Whenua Māori Bill. Much of the dialogue was supportive of the bill.
It's a contentious bill, but it has found some high-powered support.
Far North Mayor John Carter says, “We have a whole area of under utilised assets, that's a liability for the owners, that is a liability for the community and a liability for the country.”
Although the Far North and Gisborne regions will be heavily affected by this bill, with the large quantity of Māori land in these regions, the mayors of both those districts see the Ture Whenua Māori bill as a positive step.
“The most important thing of course, is that it gives authority to the owners that they haven't had. So it gives them the opportunity to achieve their own destiny, their ambitions, which is just huge,” says John Carter.
Gisborne Mayor, Meng Foon says, “It helps landowners better utilise their land.”
This bill has been controversial, those opposing it say it weakens the role of the Māori Land Court.
Te Ururoa Flavell claims, “The court will have a place in this, but let's remember that the whole point of this bill is to give more authority to landowners. So instead of the court being prevalent at every stop, it will become more of a last resort if things can't be resolved by other means.”
"There are no losers; it's all on the up and up! It's great!," says Carter.
The Waitangi Tribunal report on the bill will be released tomorrow.