The Government’s policy of a billion more trees is being directly contradicted by its decision to scrap years of work on Māori land reform, National’s Forestry and Māori Development spokespersons Dr Nick Smith and Nuk Korako say.
“The Government needs a million hectares to deliver on its promised one billion more trees and has identified underutilised Māori land as the key opportunity. The problem is that it has just scrapped the very Te Ture Whenua reforms that would enable this land to be used for forestry – and admitted part of the problem is the difficulty of using Maori land,” Dr Smith says.
“Regions like Northland and the Bay of Plenty are the worst victims of this muddled policy. There is over 500,000 hectares of Māori land in these regions, with at least half of that suitable for forestry but inaccessible because of the bureaucracy of current Māori land law.”
“It is extraordinary that Forestry Minister Shane Jones is blaming the fact he can’t deliver on his 100 million trees promise this year on the difficulty of getting approval to use Māori land when his Government has just scrapped the very reforms that would solve this problem,” Mr Korako says
“Labour and New Zealand First only have themselves to blame for this mess. They have scrapped the six years of hard work put into the Te Ture Whenua reforms and must now accept responsibility for the lost economic opportunity for Māori – a work programme which would have helped create jobs and boost incomes and regional economies - and for not being able to deliver on their flagship billion tree promise.
“It is time for Labour and New Zealand First to do what is right for Māori. They played cynical politics by previously opposing the TPP, but with some window dressing, are now supporting it. They need to do the same on the Te Ture Whenua Bill and give Māori the tools to create wealth and jobs off their own land.”