Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs)
: I move,
That the Māori Purposes Bill be now read a first time. At the appropriate time I intend to move that the bill be considered by the Māori Affairs Committee.
This bill brings together amendments to a variety of legislation related to Māori affairs, including legislation affecting the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora, the Maori Fisheries Act 2004, the Maori Trust Boards Act 1955, and Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993. These changes seek to improve the administration of this legalisation by updating provisions that have fallen out of date. Monitoring legislation to ensure its continuing relevance is consistent with the Government’s statements on regulation. Although these changes are largely administrative, they sit alongside a significant package of initiatives that contribute to the realisation of tino rangatiratanga—Māori self-determination.
Firstly, the bill amends the legislation affecting the estates of Pukepuke Tangiora, a Māori matriarch who was active in numerous reform movements during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The original will of Pukepuke Tangiora came into effect upon her death in 1936. At various stages throughout the 20th century the life beneficiaries under the will petitioned Parliament for relief from the terms of the will. These terms were modified by Parliament through provisions in various Maori Purposes Acts. These modifications date from a time when Government interference in private matters was considered more appropriate than it is today. In particular, the 1943 Maori Purposes Act removed the provision of the will requiring estate assets to be retained within the estate
for 20 years following the death of the last remaining life beneficiary. Estate assets will now vest in capital beneficiaries on the death of the last remaining life beneficiary.
The 1943 and 1951 Maori Purposes Acts have resulted in the Crown having more functions in respect of the administration of the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora than would otherwise be usual. For example, under the Maori Purposes Act 1943 trustees of the estate are appointed by the Governor-General by Order in Council. Typically, the appointments of trustees would be covered by the will itself, or would be performed by either the High Court or the Māori Land Court. The Maori Purposes Act 1951 also provides for the Minister of Māori Affairs to approve purposes for which money may be paid to estate beneficiaries out of estate funds.
The bill removes the role of the Minister of Māori Affairs and the Governor-General in the administration of the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora. I must acknowledge the work of the Māori Affairs Committee from last season and tae noa ki tēnei wā, and particularly Mita Ririnui, who did a lot of work in Hastings on this matter. The bill recognises that involvement of this kind is inappropriate and interferes with the right of the estate to exercise control over its own affairs. The bill amends legislation affecting the estate in order to remove the Minister’s role in appointing estate trustees. It also removes the Minister’s role in fixing trustees’ salaries and travelling allowances, and approving purposes for which trustees may spend estate funds. To ensure continuity in estate administration, the bill confirms the position of the present trustees. The bill clarifies the jurisdiction of the Māori Land Court to appoint and dismiss trustees to the estate and to hear all matters relating to the administration of that estate. This is consistent with the Māori Land Court’s existing jurisdiction over Māori land trusts.
The bill extends the period for which estate property will be held under the estate to 5 years after the death of the last remaining life beneficiary. Under present legislation affecting the administration of the estate, the estate would come to an end should the last remaining life beneficiary pass away. The estate property would then vest in the nine whānau of the capital beneficiaries. Extending the distribution period gives the beneficiaries of the estate 5 years in which to make decisions about the future governance entity that will hold and manage estate assets. This mitigates the risk that the estate could come to an end before the beneficiaries have time to come to an agreement amongst themselves as to how to manage estate assets in the future.
This bill also amends the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 to enable the transfer of mandated iwi organisation status and fisheries settlement assets between separate entities operating within the governance arrangements of the same iwi. The Maori Fisheries Act does not provide for such a transfer, as it was not contemplated when the Act was developed in 2004. Should such a transfer be attempted, protective provisions of the Act would require the fisheries settlement assets to be offered for sale to the highest bidder from other mandated iwi organisations and Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Ltd. This is an unintended consequence of the Act. There are situations where an iwi may wish to transfer their mandated iwi organisation status and fishery settlement assets. For example, a number of iwi progressing through the Treaty settlement process desire such a transfer to enable them to better consolidate and improve their governance arrangements and asset holdings. The Maori Fisheries Act should not prevent iwi from developing stronger and more efficient governance arrangements that may ultimately better ensure the protection and value of their fishery settlement and wider assets.
The amendment to the Maori Fisheries Act is technical and remedial. It is an enabling provision only. Iwi may elect to use it or not, depending on their particular interests and circumstances. The amendment provides for the transfer while also maintaining the existing strict requirements of the Act regarding mandated iwi organisations and the protection of the fisheries settlement assets. It exempts the transfer
of the assets from specific provisions that would otherwise require the sale of those assets. It will not compromise the rights and interests of beneficiaries of a mandated iwi organisation or the rights and interests of other mandated iwi organisations or iwi.
This bill also amends the Maori Trust Boards Act 1955 to provide for direct accountability between trust boards and their beneficiaries. Presently the Maori Trust Boards Act requires trust boards to be accountable to the Minister of Māori Affairs for their financial arrangements. Trust boards are required to have their financial statements audited by the Auditor-General. They receive their audited accounts from the Auditor-General via the Minister of Māori Affairs. They must also send their annual budget and other financial information to the Minister of Māori Affairs for approval. This accountability relationship between trust boards and the Minister of Māori Affairs does not reflect the environment in which trust boards operate. It is also inconsistent with generally accepted practices for similar governance entities, which require primary accountability to exist between an entity and its beneficiaries.
The bill amends the accountability relationship within the Maori Trust Boards Act. Each trust board must now hold an annual general meeting to report to its beneficiaries on its activities and plans for the future. This includes the presentation of audited annual accounts, budgets, and other financial information. The bill also provides that the trust boards must have their financial statements audited privately instead of by the Auditor-General. It replaces the role of the Minister of Māori Affairs in approving a trust board’s annual budget with a requirement for a trust board to supply the Minister of Māori Affairs with audited accounts and an annual budget for information only.
Finally, the bill makes various minor drafting changes to Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 and the Māori Incorporations Constitution Regulations 1994 to allow for more effective administration of this legislation.
In conclusion, I thank those who participated in consultation on these amendments, which provide the necessary updates to Māori affairs legislation, particularly the last two Māori Affairs Committees. I commend this bill to the House.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Labour—Ikaroa-Rāwhiti)
: E tika atu ki te mihi atu ki te āhua o te pire nei. E mihi kau ana ki te Minita Māori mō tōna kaha ki te whakaoti atu i tēnei take e tū roaroa atu. Mai i te tīmata o te kōrero mō te pire nei, e tika atu ki te mihi atu ki te kuia whaea mōrehu a Nan, e rere atu, e tāpuke atu rā rātou i te wāhi rā o Pakipaki.
[It is appropriate that I acknowledge the make-up of this bill. I congratulate the Minister of Māori Affairs on his efforts in bringing this longstanding matter to fruition. I commend matriarch Nan Bartlett, who was involved in the genesis of this bill from the outset and who lies in her resting place at Pakipaki.]
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sorry to interrupt the member. Our interpretation channel is not working. We are asking for the interpreter to come in. [Interruption] The interpreter is here. I ask the member to start from the beginning again, because we have not had an interpretation.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Tēnā tātou. E tika atu i runga i te tū nei ki te mihi atu ki te pire nei, te otinga, e mau roaroa atu engari, e tae atu tātau, e tata ana ki te otinga. E tika atu ki te mihi atu ki te Minita Māori i mau atu i te take nei ki roto i te Whare, hei oti pai atu ngā take e whā e puta ana mai i te tuhinga nei. E mihi kau ana ki te rere haere o te whaea matua o te whānau nei a Nan Bartlett, e tāpuke atu rātou a te kuia rā i te wāhi o Pakipaki.
E kite atu tātau te tīmata mō te kōrero mō te poari o Pukepuke Tangiora, e pai ana tērā, e haere atu ki te kōrero mō te hī ika, tērā anō wētahi o ngā take e roaroa atu. Nā, te kōrero i roto i te pepa nei mō ngā poari o ngā whenua me ngā take e pā ana ki ia iwi, ki ia iwi, kei te puta atu i roto i te tuhinga nei. Ko te ture whenua wētahi o ngā tino ture e
tuku atu tātou a ngāi Māori mai rā anō. Nā te pai hoki e whitiwhiti atu tatōu ngā take e whā, hei oti pai.
[Greetings to us all. How fitting it is that I rise to commend this bill as it nears its concluding stages. It has been a long time in the making, but we are nearly there, and close to completion. It is fitting that the part played by the Minister of Māori Affairs in bringing this matter to the House is acknowledged so that the four issues that emerge in this document are addressed satisfactorily. I acknowledge the matriarch of this family, Nan Bartlett, who seemed to be here, there, and everywhere in the process, and who lies buried there at Pakipaki.
We saw the beginnings of the talk pertaining to the Pukepuke Tangiora Trust, and that was fine. It went there to talk about fishing, but there were also some longstanding issues. Now, included in this document is a statement about the boards of the lands, and the issues relating to each tribe. From a long way back, the Land Act has always been of huge significance to Māoridom. The great thing about it is that we can exchange views about the four issues and arrive at a satisfactory outcome.
Labour will certainly be supporting the Māori Purposes Bill brought here by the Minister of Māori Affairs. The bill brings together four separate, relevant issues that have been spread out over a period of time. The Pukepuke Tangiora estate is one that has developed its assets and progressed the fortunes of the beneficiaries. It is seen fit for the bill to ensure that the beneficiaries can define for themselves how they want to do things, and that is something we support. The rationale of moving it to the Māori Land Court is something that needs a bit more work. We cite that it is being unbundled from the Crown, but it is going to the Crown in a different form, so we need to be really clear on how we are differentiating that. The departure in one sense—from what I have heard from the Minister of Māori Affairs—and still hanging on at the end is something that needs to be differentiated, because I do believe that the Minister of Māori Affairs should not be too far away from supporting the beneficiaries and the estate.
The bill removes, as earlier suggested, the Crown’s involvement in the administration of the estate and confirms the Māori Land Court’s jurisdiction. That is quite interesting because in the initial stages the removal from the courts was one of the essences really pushed by the trustees and the beneficiaries, and it is going back there. We will see how it progresses over time. The bill also extends the distribution period to 5 years after the death of the last remaining life beneficiary in order to provide sufficient time to make decisions on a future governance entity to hold and manage the estate assets. This is certainly supported, but, surely, if they can come to an agreement within 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year, then I hope there is enough in the legislation to allow that, and that the period is not prolonged for the sake of setting a time line that has outreached too far.
The original will of Pukepuke Tangiora, which came into effect in 1938, provided for the estate to be managed for the benefit of her son, his wife, and their nine children. A number of changes have been made to the administration of the estate through legislation from 1943 to 1976, resulting in the Crown being involved in the appointment of trustees, the fixing of trustees’ salaries, and the expenditure of certain funds. If it is now about putting the onus on the beneficiaries, then that is well done if they are supported. It would be too untoward to hope that no differences will arise, but how that is managed is another issue.
Also, under the will of Pukepuke Tangiora, as modified by legislation in 1943, the residual estate will be distributed to beneficiaries on the death of the last remaining life beneficiary. It is important that we define that again. How do we quantify “residual” in the sense of this estate, where does it go, and why does it need to go? The collective
effort of the past trustees and the beneficiaries’ guidance has seen the estate grow, consolidate, and be well worth while for the family.
Officials consulted the trustees and beneficiaries. The trustees support the amendments, and the beneficiaries support the removal of Crown involvement but are unable to agree on the appropriate length of time for the extension period. That is something I think needs to be firmed up in the legislation as we pass it through Parliament. We need to be quite clear, so that they have options; it should not be so defined or narrowed down that they cannot move. This is supposed to be about freeing things up for the sake of the beneficiaries. It would fare well if we were a bit more definitive in relation to how the funds of the estate are distributed. Certainly, people like Nema Bartlett and the other trustees need to be commended for the efforts they are presently putting in.
I move on to the amendments to the Maori Fisheries Act 2004. The bill will allow the transfer of the status, and certain fisheries settlement assets, of a mandated iwi organisation to another separate entity within the governance arrangements of the same iwi. That is a very, very strong banner that needs to be supported to ensure that it becomes what it says and that it means what it says. At the outset of building the mandated iwi organisations, there were tensions and strains over who should manage them—the capability of our people. It has been well proven, in the sense of Māoris’ role in managing the fisheries estate and business; they have lifted it to a level in recent years that it was never lifted to before. Currently, the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 prevents this transfer without triggering protective provisions requiring the sale of assets to the highest bidder from other iwi organisations and Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Ltd. This is an unintended consequence of the legislation, and to ensure that the assets are still within those iwi who choose to maintain them within their organisation brings another opportunity to the fast-growing asset-holders in this country—that is, Māori iwi. I think that is really good.
The Māori trust boards issue has been a long journey. Years ago, when I was the Minister of Māori Affairs, in the beginning the books were behind by 6 years, on average. Now that they have been tidied up, the trust boards have caught up. It is certainly encouraging to hear that people put the responsibility of the running and the development of these assets and the maintaining of the trust boards’ interests back on to the beneficiaries. Again, I would encourage the Minister of Māori Affairs not to be too far away from that action. Some trust boards are firing ahead very, very well. They have sizable assets and a lot of support, like the Tūwharetoa board and others, but there are—
Paul Quinn: Ngāti Awa.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: —and like the Ngāti Awa board—others that are struggling. Some are like the Ngāti Awa board, which is progressing very well since it has had new management and support all around it. All of those who are involved in developing it need to be thanked, as is the case with all the trust boards. But the time has come when we have enough strength, we have enough capability, and we have enough modernisation, and we do not need to be patronised. I would certainly commend that we support these changes, albeit they are incidental. I commend this bill for further discussion.
Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU (Associate Minister of Māori Affairs)
: I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in support of the Māori Purposes Bill. The amendments within this bill make a number of timely changes to Māori affairs legislation. Although they are largely administrative, these changes are none the less important to various groupings of Māori.
For members of the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora, these changes are about removing unnecessary Crown involvement in the affairs of a private whānau. For Māori trust
boards, these changes are about providing a direct line of accountability between trust boards and their beneficiaries. For iwi, the changes are about amending unintentionally restrictive provisions of the Maori Fisheries Act. For Māori landowners, the changes are about improving the administration of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act.
Pukepuke Tangiora was a politically active Māori woman with substantial land holdings in the Hawke’s Bay area. During her lifetime she was an active member of the Kotahitanga movement for an independent Māori Parliament, the Rātana movement, and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Pukepuke Tangiora’s original will came into effect upon her death in 1936. Under her will, her estate was held for the benefit of her only son, Te Akonga Mohi, his wife, and their nine children. Throughout the 20th century the Crown intervened to assume responsibility for the appointment and removal of trustees to the estate. The Crown also assumed responsibility for approving purposes for which estate moneys could be paid to estate beneficiaries. These are functions that the Crown continues to perform today.
The Crown’s continued role in the administration of this estate is an unnecessary limitation upon the ability of the estate beneficiaries to manage their own affairs. Therefore, the bill removes the role of the Minister of Māori Affairs and the Governor-General in the administration of the estate. This includes the appointment of estate trustees, the fixing of trustees’ salaries and travelling allowances, and the approval of purposes for which trustees may spend certain estate funds. The bill instead confirms the Māori Land Court’s jurisdiction to hear all matters relating to the administration of the estate. The bill also creates a 5-year window between the death of the last remaining life beneficiary and the distribution of the estate property. This is intended to give the beneficiaries time to realise their aspirations regarding the future of the estate. The National-led Government supports whānau making decisions about their own future. The beneficiaries of the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora have the experience and expertise to allow them to manage their own affairs.
It is in the same spirit that the bill also makes changes to the Maori Trust Boards Act 1955. It provides for a more direct line of accountability between trust boards and their beneficiaries. At present, trust boards are accountable to the Minister of Māori Affairs for their financial arrangements. This involves having their financial statements audited by the Auditor-General. Trust boards then submit their annual budgets and other financial information to the Minister of Māori Affairs for approval. This relationship is not consistent with the right of trust board beneficiaries to hold their own trust boards to account. It is also not appropriate in this day and age, when Māori seek independence and self-reliance. The bill amends this relationship to provide for a direct line of accountability between trust boards and their beneficiaries. Trust boards will be required to hold an annual general meeting to report to beneficiaries on their operations and future plans. This includes making available financial information, such as audited annual accounts and budgets. They will no longer be required to have their financial statements audited by the Auditor-General. Instead, they will manage that privately. Trust boards have long wanted this change. The idea that in the 21st century they have to come back to the Minister of Māori Affairs to have every “t” crossed and every “i” dotted has been long resented.
The bill also makes changes to the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 to ensure iwi are able to transfer mandated iwi organisation status and fisheries settlement assets between separate entities within their governance arrangements. At present the Maori Fisheries Act does not provide for such a transfer. It requires fisheries settlement assets to be offered for sale to other mandated iwi organisations and Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Ltd. In amending this unintentionally restrictive provision of the Maori Fisheries Act, the bill helps iwi again manage their own affairs.
Lastly, the bill also makes technical changes to Te Ture Whenua Maori Act. These changes improve the administration of this Act, and are consistent with this Government’s priorities concerning better regulation. For example, the bill amends the provision of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act relating to the ability of a Māori incorporation to amend its own constitution. This clarifies the language of the provision, making it easier for Māori incorporations to interpret.
In summary, the Māori Purposes Bill makes a number of timely changes to Māori affairs legislation. The bill contributes to the Government’s goal of a brighter and more prosperous future for Māori, and, more than anything, it supports Māori in the management of their own affairs, whether it be in the form of whānau trusts, trust boards, or commercial organisations. I support the referral of the bill to the Māori Affairs Committee .
Hon MITA RIRINUI (Labour)
: Ā, kāti kia ora tātou kei roto i te Whare. Tū tautoko ana i ngā mihi mō tērā ake o ngā kuia, a Nan Bartlett te uri o Te Akonga Mohi, nāna i kawe mai tēnei take ki mua i ngā mema Pāremata i te wā i a Reipa te Kāwanatanga. Me te mihi anō ki te Minita mō tōna kaha ki te whakapouahia rā i tēnei kaupapa, kia oti ai ngā pōraruraruhanga i waenganui i ngā uri o te kuia rā.
[So greetings to us in the House. I stand to endorse the acknowledgments made in respect of Nan Bartlett among the elderly womenfolk, and descendant of Te Akonga Mohi. She brought this matter before members of Parliament when Labour was in Government. I also acknowledge the Minister, and his diligence in advancing this matter and settling the problems that the descendants of that matriarch had among themselves.]
May I first congratulate the Minister of Māori Affairs, who boldly brought this bill to the House, particularly as it refers to the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora. I am aware that the Minister has a relationship with this particular whānau. I am familiar with them myself, and during my time as Associate Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and also as a member of the Māori Affairs Committee, I met with kuia Bartlett on a number of occasions to talk about “how this injustice could be rectified”, as she put it in her own words. The whānau of Pukepuke Tangiora considered this an injustice because the Crown had intervened in a way that it should not have. Regardless of the reasons, the uri of this particular kuia, who were responsible for the inheritance and her estate, were quite capable at that time—the 1940s—of representing and taking care of the estate to the best of their ability and for the benefit of future beneficiaries. I warmly remember the old kuia, whom I visited at her home in Hawke’s Bay, on the sunny coastline of Ocean Beach. We had a nice conversation and a nice afternoon tea. She was a beautiful old lady, who had a lot to talk about. She shared her life stories with me.
I congratulate the Minister on his bold move. Labour, during its term in Government, tried to alleviate the concerns of the old lady by driving this matter to a similar stage that the Minister has come to today, but unsuccessfully. However, that is of no importance at this stage, because the bill is here now. Future generations of the descendants of Pukepuke Tangiora will make their own decisions, based on their strong concern for the well-being of their future generations. Therefore, I congratulate the Minister.
The Labour Opposition will be supporting the bill. There are some very, very good amendments to the four Acts in question. But I have to say to the Minister that this is an opportunity where, for example, he could have freed up the land management requirements of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act and the Māori Land Court to the point where we could have addressed the issues around Māori land utilisation, rather than
retention, because the two collide with each other and some issues need to be discussed around some particular parts of that Act. But I will come to that later.
In terms of the Maori Trust Boards Act, I had a discussion earlier this afternoon with the general manager of one of our local Bay of Plenty trust boards. The same concerns were expressed by that general manager as have been expressed by a number of managers and trustees on trust boards around the country—that the Minister of Māori Affairs had far too much control over the day-to-day business of trust boards. They had wished that a more commercial model had been put in place for them to be guided by, but instead the Crown decided in its wisdom some years back, in 1955, that perhaps Māori were not in the right frame of mind to have total responsibility over their lives, so it introduced an Act that had very, very long paternal apron strings attached to it.
Once again, this is a very, very bold move. But I have to say, as I said earlier, that this is an opportunity lost. Māori unemployment now is at 16 percent and rising. Māori land all around the country is hugely underutilised, and much of the blame for that can be attributed to Te Ture Whenua Maori Act. The Act looks more at land retention, rather than at land utilisation. As I said before, the two collide with each other. This would have been a great opportunity for the Minister of Māori Affairs to have made a thorough examination of those barriers within Te Ture Whenua Maori Act, with a view to freeing up the Act to the degree whereby landowners, land trustees, incorporations, and societies were in a position to make more bold decisions and were able to negotiate with banks and lending institutions a way forward on mortgages and what have you.
The other opportunity lost in this particular case relates to Māori housing. The Minister may be aware that under the former Department of Māori Affairs, many Māori land blocks were developed to accommodate Māori housing in urban and rural areas. That is no longer the case. The provisions within the Maori Land Act were tightened to the point where a consensus of 75 percent must be reached before any major decisions can be made, and that in itself is a very, very difficult barrier to overcome.
This bill was an opportunity. I had some discussions with Te Puni Kōkiri staff a while back, and I put to them the proposal that land could be freed up for Māori housing. I gave the Tauranga - Western Bay of Plenty examples of where land was available but could not be developed properly for housing because of the limitations within Te Tura Whenua Maori Act 1993. Although the current amendments to the Act deal with minor issues in terms of administration, they do absolutely nothing to alleviate the strain on Māori housing.
As the Minister would know, throughout the 1960s, 1970s and part of the 1980s, Māori housing projects also alleviated Māori unemployment and accommodated, to a very high degree, Māori trade training. This was an opportunity for the Minister to revisit that arrangement and to look at a complete package that would include not only Māori land development but also Māori employment, and that would alleviate the strain on Māori housing. As I have said, this was an opportunity lost. But, hopefully, the Minister will consider this very issue in the next 12 months and put in some appropriate policies that may satisfy Māori landowners and do something constructive to alleviate the very high unemployment rate amongst the Māori population. I wait in anticipation.
I will revisit some of the points mentioned earlier on, particularly with regard to Māori trust boards. The Hon Georgina te Heuheu said that this bill is very timely; I say that it is well overdue. In fact, Māori trust boards around the country are looking at reconstructing themselves. They want to repeal the current legislation with the support of the current Minister, with a view toward severing those apron strings so that they can have total responsibility over their daily business activities. The Minister touched on the fact that it is ridiculous that a trust board has to notify the Minister of Māori Affairs before it can undertake major expenditure—well, I would not consider it major
expenditure; I cannot remember what the limit is. The Minister may be able to enlighten me on that, but I know that it is not a great deal. If a private company had to operate along the same grounds and was expected to make a sound investment that would benefit its beneficiaries on a wider scale, then this would not be the way to go about it. I look forward to the Minister acknowledging that and introducing more changes in the months to come.
A good example that the Minister might like to refer to is the disestablishment of Te Arawa Māori Trust Board and the repeal of the Te Arawa Māori Trust Board legislation and its replacement with the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Act, which was driven through this House by the former Minister of Māori Affairs. It essentially freed up the activities of the Te Arawa Lakes Trust to perform its undertakings and responsibilities in a more commercial way. By all accounts, it is doing very well, and projected returns in the future are looking very, very good.
Although I congratulate the Minister on bringing this omnibus bill to the House—it amends a lot of Acts—I still think it is an opportunity lost. But there is still time to recover that ground.
METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green)
: I will take a short call on the Māori Purposes Bill. The Green Party will be supporting this bill. It has been very special to hear the stories of Pukepuke Tangiora and the issues surrounding why her estate, her land, and her legacy are part of this legislation.
The only issue the Greens have concerns the Maori Fisheries Act, and I was on the select committee that considered that legislation. We just want to make sure that this is a genuine oversight and that there are no unintended consequences, particularly for smaller iwi on whom this change may or may not have a significant impact. They are often the ones who are most forgotten and left out in issues around Māori fisheries. With that, I reiterate that the Green Party will be supporting this bill and we are pleased to do so.
KELVIN DAVIS (Labour)
: The Māori Purposes Bill is an omnibus bill that changes how the Pukepuke Tangiora estate is administered, and amends three other Acts, those being the Maori Fisheries Act 2004, the Maori Trust Boards Act 1955, and Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993.
The changes to the Pukepuke Tangiora estate have come about as the result of a petition of Hāriata Baker, one of two sisters who are the surviving beneficiaries stipulated in the will of Pukepuke Tangiora, their grandmother. The original will of Pukepuke Tangiora, which came into effect in 1936 upon her death, provided for the estate to be managed for the benefit of her son, his wife, and their nine children. Hāriata Baker and her sister Kerēni are the last two of those nine children.
Parliament has changed the effect of Pukepuke Tangiora’s will through a Maori Purposes Act on six separate occasions between 1943 and 1973. As a result of these Acts, current legislation relating to some aspects of the will of Pukepuke Tangiora differs significantly from that which pertained when the will was written. Hāriata Baker and her sister Kerēni are in their late 70s, and upon their deaths the land will be free to be sold. They sought the reinstatement of the provision that land be held for another 20 years after the death of the last beneficiary, as envisaged by Pukepuke Tangiora but removed by the Maori Purposes Act 1943. However, the bill as written proposes to extend that period instead to just 5 years after the death of the last beneficiary, to provide enough time for beneficiaries of the estate to make decisions on a future governance entity to hold and manage the estate assets. Hāriata fears that upon her death pressure will continue to mount for the land to be sold to clear the way for the coast to be developed, ultimately destroying the unique and valuable character of the area—that
area being Ocean Beach, which was described in an editorial in
Hawke’s Bay Today
as one of the gems of Hawke’s Bay.
The Māori Affairs Committee believes that the Hastings District Council and the trustees have not acted in good faith towards the beneficiaries, which has led to a prolonged and unnecessary court case in order to protect their land. As the
Hawke’s Bay Today
editorial continued to say: “There are a number of vested interests pulling in different directions at Ocean Beach—Puke Puke Tangiora Estate, Waipuka Incorporation, which cannot agree with each other, or among their own beneficiaries, Tennyson OB which stand to make a lot of cash if the dice rolls in their favour, Haupouri Station Ltd a several-generations old farming business which wants to continue farming, but has gifted land to the council and sold land to potential developers. Then there is the anti-development group Future Ocean Beach,”—and, as well, the council.
Reverting to the original terms of the will would considerably ease the tension over the land. Although it would not bind the land in perpetuity, it might safeguard the land until more enlightened attitudes to coastal development prevail. The bill also proposes amendments to the Pukepuke Tangiora estate so that the Māori Land Court and not the Crown has jurisdiction to hear all matters relating to the administration of the estate.
This bill also makes amendments to the Maori Fisheries Act 2004. An unintended consequence of the Act was that it prevented the transfer of fishery settlement assets of a mandated iwi organisation to another separate entity of the same iwi. Any attempt to transfer those assets would trigger a provision that would require the sale of those assets to the highest bidder. This, in effect, could strip fisheries assets away from an iwi. This bill proposes that iwi are able to transfer certain fisheries settlement assets to other separate entities within governance arrangements of the same iwi, which, in effect, rightfully allows iwi to assert tino rangatiratanga over their own assets.
This bill also amends the Maori Trust Boards Act 1955. At present the Act makes Māori trust boards accountable to the Minister of Māori Affairs. Similar governance entities are not subject to the same conditions of accountability. They are instead accountable to their beneficiaries. This bill proposes that the same practices that apply to those other entities also apply to Māori trust boards. As a result of this bill, Māori trust boards too will become accountable to their beneficiaries. This means that trust boards will be required to hold annual meetings where they will report to their beneficiaries on their activities over the course of a year and present an annual report including a financial statement and a budget. This means that the beneficiaries of trust boards can attend those annual meetings and hold the trust board to account. It is no longer the Minister of Māori Affairs to whom the trust board reports; instead, those annual reports, financial statements, and budget will be sent only to the Minister of Māori Affairs for his information.
Part of the bill relates to the Māori Land Court and extends its powers to reflect those powers of the District Court to award interest on debt or damages. The amendments will ensure that an order of the Māori Land Court filed in the District Court may be enforced as if it has equal status as an order of the District Court, which includes being removed to the High Court for enforcement. The Māori Land Court has been in existence in one form or another since the passing of the Native Lands Act 1862, and the Māori Appellate Court has existed since the 1890s. The Māori Land Court has jurisdiction to hear matters relating to Māori land, including successions, title improvements, Māori land sales, and the administration of Māori land trusts and incorporations. It also has jurisdiction to hear cases under the Maori Fisheries Act 2004, the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, and a number of other statutes. As at September 2009 there were approximately 1.47 million hectares of Māori land, which
comprises less than 5 percent of land in New Zealand. Although the total area of Māori land is small, the court in its administration recognises the special bond that Māori people have with this land. Thus the maintenance and preservation of the court’s record, containing as it does invaluable customary information including whakapapa, or genealogy, remain a fundamental feature of the work of the court.
Labour supports this bill being referred to the select committee. However, with Māori unemployment double that of the general population, this bill does miss an opportunity to make real progress for Māori. The issues burdening our people are unemployment, the cost of living, inadequate housing, and real progress in lifting wages. The cost of fruit and vegetables continues to rise. We heard today that it is getting more expensive to go to the doctor, and with the cuts to early childhood education funding, parents are being expected to dig deeper into their pockets to get their young ones an education in their most formative years. This is happening at a time when Statistics New Zealand’s Income Survey shows that the median Māori income from all sources has gone backwards over the past 2 years by $41 a week, which probably explains why we heard over the weekend that families are being forced to buy cheaper cuts of meat normally used for dog food. When people get to that stage, we know that more drastic measures than what are being amended in this bill are necessary to improve outcomes for Māori. The Labour Party supports this bill being referred to the select committee, but it is a missed opportunity to make a real difference for Māori and to reduce disparity for our people.
HONE HARAWIRA (Māori Party—Te Tai Tokerau)
: Tēna koe, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Māori Purposes Bill is certainly very important to the affected parties, but it is essentially technical in nature. I sincerely hope that it attracts the support of the whole House, as it certainly enjoys the support of all of the members of the Māori Party. Thank you very much.
PAUL QUINN (National)
: It gives me pleasure to stand to support the Māori Purposes Bill, because this is just another step in the continuing journey of this Government’s contribution to extend the tools for, and the capability of, Māori development. It is in the spirit of the extraordinary work that this Government is doing to advance Māori causes across the disciplines of economics and commerce, and in educational growth. I look forward to deliberating on this bill and hearing contributions during the course of the select committee’s consideration of it. Thank you.
Hon SHANE JONES (Labour)
: Tēnā koe, Mr Deputy Speaker. Ngā mihi nunui ki a tātou i tēnei pō. As I give this short but very important speech, I would like to acknowledge the presence of very notable identities from Kaitāia in the gallery this evening. Amongst other things the Māori Purposes Bill—and this has been conveniently overlooked and ignored by Hone Harawira’s and Paul Quinn’s contributions, the content of which was inversely related to the size of the problems confronting Māoridom—isolates outstanding challenges in relation to the implementation of the Māori fisheries settlement, which a number of us realised—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member, but the time has come for me to leave the Chair.