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.”
The Coalition Government’s Waka Jumping Bill is bad for Māori representation and is an affront to democracy, National’s Māori Development spokesperson Nuk Korako says.
“Our Māori MPs across the political spectrum have a duty not just to their party, but to act in the best interests of Māori and this Bill prevents them from doing so.
“MPs must have the opportunity to represent their constituency to the fullest extent which may require them to stand against their party’s leadership where it is warranted – this Bill prohibits that.
“Healthy debate is important in any democracy but the Government clearly fears that its shambolic policies and ill-conceived legislation require them to legislate their MPs into line.
“One only has to look at recent history where Dame Tariana Turia crossed the floor to try to vote down the flawed Foreshore and Seabed Act. Under this Waka Jumping Bill, she would be out the door for doing the right thing by Māori.
“The silence of Labour’s much-touted Māori Caucus is deafening - they should be vehemently opposed to this Bill but have once again shown that when it comes down to it Māori can’t rely on them for representation.”
Labour has continued its attacks on Māori progress, with Associate Crown Māori Relations Minister Meka Whaitiri reasserting the Government’s paternalistic view that it knows what’s best for Māori, National’s Māori Development spokesperson Nuk Korako says.
“Ms Whaitiri has described the previous Government’s $5.2 million spending on investigating the establishment of a Māori Land Service as “arrogant” and “appalling”. The same might be said of her and her Government’s opposition to the Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill which would have lifted economic outcomes for so many Māori.
“The Government has said that it would be axed but hasn’t said what it would be replaced with. This is pure politics and another example of this Government’s obstructive approach to progress and Crown-Iwi relations.
“The Bill would have made it easier for Māori land owners to make decisions about how they wish to use their lands. But it appears Labour doesn’t trust Māori to make their own decisions.
“Even Ms Whaitiri’s colleagues recognise that the Bill would have unlocked huge economic and social potential. Just last week Shane Jones described the challenges he faces in planting 100 million trees a year, specifically referring to the challenges in utilising Māori land because of problems in getting the consent of land owners. This Bill would have helped to address that very problem.
“The trashing of the Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill and the subsequent attacks on spending to progress Māori development will do nothing to further progress for Māori.
“There is a real danger that the progress Māori have made over the last ten years will stall if Labour continues to act like it alone knows what’s best for Māori. It’s time they trusted Māori to know what’s best for themselves.”
Redcliffs School now has a clear future which will give the staff and students certainty, and enable them to look forward to a new and larger site, says Nuk Korako, List MP based in Port Hills.
“The Minister carefully considered all the analysis and concluded that moving the school away from the original site is the best option for the school and its community,” Mr Korako said.
“Every option was carefully considered. It has been clear from the beginning of my engagement with the board and community that the school site was important to the teachers, students, and community.
“But at the front of the Minister’s mind were the potential psychosocial effects on the children. The investigation found that although the risk of negative psychosocial impacts could be mitigated for most children, this would place additional responsibilities on staff to implement mitigation measures if the school remained on the site, and this cannot be guaranteed by the Ministry of Education or the current board in the long term.
“At the end of the day, we whole-heartedly believe relocating the school to the nearby Redcliffs Park will be best for the entire community.
“Moving to Redcliffs Park will also mean the school will have a larger site, allowing it room to grow and the potential to share community facilities.
"I want to acknowledge the school board, the teachers, the students, the parents, and the Redcliffs community. This has been a long road, and I am glad that the community now has certainty and can plan for their new home,” Mr Korako said.
Analysis will now be undertaken on Redcliffs Park to find the best site for the school. Redcliffs School will continue sharing the site at Van Asch Deaf Education Centre until the new site is ready, which will likely be by mid-2019.