Minister: MPs ‘playing politics’ with Maori land
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.