Min­is­ter: MPs ‘play­ing pol­i­tics’ with Maori land

The Dominion Post - - Politics - JO MOIR

Maori Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Te Ururoa Flavell has hit back at MPs op­pos­ing the Maori land re­form bill say­ing they should ‘‘stop play­ing pol­i­tics’’ with Maori land.

The Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill is due back in Par­lia­ment next week for its third and fi­nal read­ing but Labour, NZ First and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira have all iden­ti­fied flaws in the bill and Labour has promised to re­peal it if it is in gov­ern­ment.

Harawira, who re­cently did a deal with the Maori Party to stand aside in the Maori seats in ex­change for a clear run in Te Tai Tok­erau, has called the bill a ‘‘poi­sonous and de­struc­tive cancer’’.

Flavell said that just high­lights the fact the two par­ties can work to­gether at the elec­tion but still have their own views on in­di­vid­ual is­sues.

‘‘Peo­ple have got to stop play­ing pol­i­tics with our land. Our peo­ple ex­pect bet­ter of those rep­re­sen­ta­tives of po­lit­i­cal par­ties, Maori in par­tic­u­lar, to play games with our whenua.’’

Af­ter six years, Flavell said, the bill was fi­nally at the ‘‘end of the jour­ney, or close to it’’ and it fixed the ‘‘in­equities’’ in the cur­rent leg­is­la­tion.

There would be a higher thresh­old for gov­ern­ment agen­cies when con­sid­er­ing tak­ing Maori land un­der the Pub­lic Works Act. In the past, leg­is­la­tion al­lowed eas­ier ac­qui­si­tion of Maori land with less ac­cess to com­pen­sa­tion, re­duc­ing Maori land to just over 5 per cent of all land, Flavell said.

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