The Government has kicked-off a week of celebrations at Waitangi with a suite of announcements aimed at supporting Māori business and land development.

Prime Minister at Kaikohe

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced changes to the way Māori land is rated by local government.

Historic rates arrears on much Māori land prevents it from being developed by its current owners. Under the new proposal local authority chief executives will have the power to write-off rates arrears on Māori and non-Māori land if they consider the rates to be unrecoverable.

Mahuta said that current owners who inherited rates arrears were discouraged from developing their land.

"While the retention of Māori land is paramount, inheriting rates arrears on land that can't be sold discourages landowners from engaging with their whenua," Mahuta said.

"The proposal would give current owners a 'clean slate' so they can start afresh. Owners will be able to bring proposals to their local council without the fear of having to pay rates arrears before starting any kind of development," she said.

Close to 1.4 million hectares are currently classified as Māori freehold land, Mahuta said much of this was unused or underdeveloped.

Mahuta, who is also the Minister of Local Government will make the changes by amending the Local Government (Rating) Act this year.

Provincial Growth Fund

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is delivering on its commitment to unlock the potential of Māori-owned land with investments up and down the country making a genuine difference to communities, Regional Economic Development Shane Jones says.

At Waitangi last year, the Government announced a $100 million Whenua Māori allocation aimed at creating new economic opportunities on Māori-owned land through loans or grants.

“Today, I’m pleased to be in Kaikohe to announce that we’ve approved 30 initiatives across eight regions worth about $30 million, with another $40m in applications currently under assessment,” Shane Jones said.

“Finding investment-ready proposals has required great partnership between our officials at the Provincial Development Unit and the various groups that own these underutilised blocks of land. I’m proud of the work we’ve done in this important space and I’m confident the allocation will be fully committed in the next six months.

“The partnerships we’re announcing today are integral to developing our regional economies and providing Māori landowners the opportunity to create their own wealth, raise incomes and wellbeing.

Sources: Beehive.govt.nz, stuff.co.nz, nzhearld.co.nz 

Photo Credit – Peter de Graaf, Northern Advocate