Members Bill will prevent Māori land confiscations

Green Party MP Hūhana Lyndon says her Public Works (Prohibition of Compulsory Acquisition of Māori Land) Amendment Bill is an opportunity to right some past wrongs around the alienation of Māori land.

This Members Bill, which was drawn from the ballot today and will be debated in Parliament, aims to address a flaw in the Public Works Act 1981 whereby Māori freehold and customary land can be acquired by a Minister or local authority for public works, without the consent of affected Māori communities.

“Not one more acre of whenua Māori should be taken by the Crown, and I am calling on all political parties to support my bill to protect Maori land from confiscation under the Public Works Act,” says Green Party Māori Development spokesperson Hūhana Lyndon.

“For many Māori, the confiscation of land is not just a memory of the Land Wars and their legacy, but something that is still confronting them in the present.

“The Public Works Act was one of the key mechanisms which facilitated the alienation of Māori land. The powers of compulsory acquisition in the Act cut across the Treaty guarantee of rangatiratanga.

“The Waitangi Tribunal found that the Crown must actively protect Māori interests, and this is what my Bill seeks to do, by protecting the small amount of Māori land left from compulsory acquisition - thus giving primacy to Article Two of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“The Green Party’s Hoki Whenua Mai commitment aims to prevent whenua Māori being taken in future and provide a clearer path for the return of land previously taken.

“Ko tēnei te wā kia whakatika - the time is now to right past wrongs and return land wrongly taken from Māori to Māori, so whānau and whenua can thrive,” Hūhana Lyndon said. 

An earlier iteration of this Member’s Bill was tabled by former Green MP Catherine Delahunty in 2016 but was voted down by the previous National Party-led government. However, Lyndon says Parliament now has a chance to make amends.