The Green Party launched a petition at Rātana today in support of its Members’ Bill to stop the compulsory acquisition of whenua Māori under the Public Works Act.
“This is a real opportunity to stop any more unfair confiscations of what is left of whenua Māori. The rallying call of Dame Whina Cooper of ‘Not one more acre’ of compulsory Māori land acquisitions can now be put into practice, and the Treaty of Waitangi can be made a stronger part of our nation’s laws,” Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said.
“It is an honour to launch this campaign today to bring action on T.W. Rātana’s lifelong commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.”
The Bill would amend the Public Works Act to specifically protect Māori freehold and Māori customary land from being acquired by a minister or local authority for public works. This would mean that no Māori land can be taken without consent.
“This Bill was inspired by Patricia Grace and her whānau in Kapiti who were threatened with confiscation under the Public Works Act to build an expressway through their ancestral land,” Mr Shaw said.
“Compulsory acquisitions of Māori land cut across Article Two of the Treaty of Waitangi, which guarantees rangatiratanga. The Waitangi Tribunal has been clear that Māori have been discriminated against as a result of the Public Works Act.
“Parliament passes settlement legislation to apologise and provide redress for historical injustice, while at the same time the Government is leaving the door open to confiscate further land and repeat those injustices.”
The Public Works (Prohibition of Compulsory Acquisition of Māori Land) Amendment Bill was drawn as Catherine Delahunty’s Members’ Bill from the ballot in December, and will be in front of the House in March.
“The Green Party is asking all Members of Parliament to support this Bill so that we can see justice for Māori and honouring of the Treaty of Waitangi.
“The work of Rātana was about honouring the Treaty of Waitangi, and we now have an opportunity to continue that work by putting in place legal protection for whenua Māori,” Mr Shaw said