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Ed Sheeran

Tribunal to hear Maori land law challenge

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The Waitangi Tribunal has agreed to hear an urgent claim against the proposed repeal of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act and its replacement with a radically different framework for Maori land law.

The reform is being championed by Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell as a much-needed response to under-development of Maori land.

That's challenged by claimants including Marise Lant and the New Zealand Maori Council, who says the bill's purpose of optimum utilisation of Maori land degrades the treaty guarantee that Maori have tino rangatiratanga to use their lands in whatever manner they see fit.

The tribunal says Te Ture Whenua Maori Act was a response to the Maori Land March of 1975, which demanded an end to the alienation of Maori land.

It says the questions raised about the process to create the new bill, and the implications of the potential changes are so serious a substantive hearing is needed.

Crown lawyers tried to stop the tribunal reading a submission by Maori land Court judges on the draft bill posted on the Radio Waatea website, but the tribunal said there can be no justification for the crown to hold back such a potentially important submission, and it should be made available to all parties.

The substantive hearing is likely to be held in November.


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