2 December 2016 MEDIA STATEMENT
The Māori Land Court, hailed as an “exemplar” by the Ministry of Justice chief executive and Secretary Andrew Bridgman, is under siege by the Government through Māori land reforms and a Ministry restructure, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.
“The Māori Land Court has served Māori landowners, their whanau and hapu for 150 years, recognising land as taonga tuku iho of special significance to Māori.
“In select committee yesterday, Andrew Bridgman twice lauded the Māori Land Court as an ‘exemplar’ court in terms of modernisation and timeliness when dealing with cases.
“So why is this ‘exemplar’ court now under a two-pronged attack by this Government?
“Dozens of jobs are about to be lost at the Court through a Ministry restructure.
“The highly unpopular Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill, if passed, will achieve little other than the severe reduction in powers of the Māori Land Court.
“This court occupies an important and unique role in our justice system and for many Māori it is considered a true taonga.
“It’s unacceptable that this institution, which safeguards hundreds of years of collective knowledge, is now being treated with such disregard by this Government.
“The Māori Party brag about the influence being at the table brings them and they should be up in arms over this, but they’re more concerned with propping up the National Government that sees increasing inequality and decreasing prosperity for our people.
“Labour has stood up for Māori landowners through our staunch opposition to the Māori land reforms. A Labour government will ensure that vital Māori institutions are not hollowed out.
“Once again, I’m calling on Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell to show leadership and fight to protect the Māori Land Court,” says Meka Whaitiri.