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Review of the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993-2017 progress of Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill

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Māori Law Review, 2017, 1-18

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Love's article offers a detailed overview of the progression and potential reforms to the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 leading up to the 2017 General Election.

Initiated by the Associate Minister of Māori Affairs in 2012, the review aimed at unlocking the economic potential of Māori land while preserving its cultural significance. A complete rewrite of the Act was proposed, resulting in the Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill, which introduced substantial changes in the structure and function of the law. The Bill aimed to empower Māori landowners through improved utilisation and management of their lands, responding to issues highlighted by the Review Panel.
The legislative process included public consultations, a Waitangi Tribunal inquiry, and subsequent revisions to the draft Bill. The Māori Affairs Select Committee played a significant role in examining the Bill, leading to several amendments proposed through Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs). Despite some controversial elements remaining, such as the participating owners model and the compulsory dispute resolution process, the Committee’s recommendations sought to address key concerns raised during submissions and by the Waitangi Tribunal. Significant to the Bill’s progression were the detailed provisions for a Māori Land Service, intended to support landowners with registry, decision-making, dispute resolution, and advisory services. However, the Bill’s future became uncertain with the dissolution of the 51st Parliament and the impending election, leaving open questions about its reinstatement and potential modifications by the subsequent government. Love’s article encapsulates the legislative journey of the Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill, highlighting the complex interplay between legal reform, Māori landowner empowerment, and the preservation of cultural and economic interests. It reflects on the comprehensive efforts to reform Māori land law and the challenges of achieving consensus on such a pivotal issue.

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