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Paraninihi ki Waitotara – 25th Anniversary

Hon Parekura Horomia

28 September 2002 Speech Notes

Paraninihi ki Waitotara – 25th Anniversary

Delivered on behalf of Hon Parekura Horomia, Maori Affairs Minister by Mahara Okeroa, MP for Te Tai Tonga, Chair of the Maori Affairs Select Committee

Mihi

I am delighted to be here at the 25th anniversary of the Parininihi ki Waitotara Incorporation.

It is always a pleasure to attend events that recognise and celebrate achievement – and the 25th anniversary of a major Mäori incorporation is certainly an achievement worthy of celebration.

So firstly, congratulations on reaching the significant milestone that is your 25th anniversary.

And secondly, congratulations on what you have achieved in those 25 years.

History of reserved land

The establishment of this Incorporation is very much linked to the history of reserved lands. The reserves were created in a number of ways throughout the country. In Taranaki, they are made up of land confiscated by the Crown and subsequently returned to Mäori ownership.

For much of the more than 120 years of existence, the reserved lands were administered, on behalf of owners, by the Public and Mäori Trustees.

Establishment of PKW

In 1976, in response to the concerns and wishes of owners, a number of organisations were established around the country to take responsibility for the administration of the Mäori reserved land within their rohe. In Taranaki the Parininihi ki Waitotara Incorporation was established.

The Mäori Trustee transferred all reserved land in the rohe to the Incorporation. The Incorporation was then required by law to use, manage, and administer the land and interests vested in the Incorporation, on behalf of all owners.

However, the management and administration of the reserved lands had to be undertaken within the restrictions imposed by the Mäori Reserved Land Act. That Act fixed the terms on which the lands were leased.

Reserved land reforms

The reserved landowners were to wait more than 20 years before they were able to realise commercial benefits from their land.

Before 1998, Mäori owners were paid a fixed statutory rent reviewable only once every 21 years. It was the rising inflation during the 1970s that reduced these rents to peppercorn status, depressing the real incomes of the Mäori owners.

Until 1998, rents were restricted by law to 5% of the unimproved value for rural land and 4% of the unimproved value for urban land.

The Mäori Reserved Land Amendment Act of 1997 provided for a transition to market rents. It also reduced the rent review period from 21 years to every seven years.

In addition, lessees were required to give the Mäori owners a right of first refusal to buy should they wish to sell, or transfer the lease outside their immediate family. This proposal was intended to accommodate the wish of the Mäori owners to regain full control of their land.

In time, the right of first refusal will operate to provide an opportunity for Mäori landowners to regain full possession of all their land.

However, that was still not the end of the matter – one issue remained – the past rental losses of the Mäori Land Owners.

The Mäori Reserved Land owners were to wait another five years before that issue was to be resolved.

It is particularly satisfying for me to have been a member of the government that finally moved the long-standing issue of past rental losses through to a successful conclusion.

Schedule 5

It was during the passage of the 1997 act that parliament heard further representations from the owners of the Mäori reserved lands about past rental losses.

In response, parliament unanimously agreed that past rental losses to the Mäori reserved land owners should be addressed by the government. That commitment was incorporated into the legislation as Schedule 5.

However, it was not until there was a change of government that real and actual progress was made.

In September 2001, the government (of which I was a member) resolved to begin negotiations with the owners of Mäori Reserved Lands to address the issue of past rental losses. Negotiations started in September 2001 and were successfully resolved in May this year.

The settlement negotiated between the crown and the organisation of Mäori authorities honours the unanimous resolution made by parliament during the passage of the Mäori Reserved Land Amendment Act 1997.

In May of this year, agreement to a $47.5 million payment to Mäori reserved land owners was achieved. That payment was not subject to tax. A significant recipient of that settlement was the Parininihi ki Waitotara Incorporation.

The payment was in recognition of the losses Mäori reserved land owners had sustained through their inability to maintain market rents under the pre-1997 legislation. The payment will assist owners to regain control of some of their lands through lease purchases.

I am pleased that brings closure to a longstanding and controversial issue that this government was committed to resolving. It also provides a platform with which to look forward at future development.

In achieving the settlement I acknowledge the determined efforts of the organisation of Mäori authorities negotiation team – which included Mr Peter Charleton from your Incorporation, who is, I must say, a particularly committed negotiator.

Achievements of PKW

It is appropriate to reflect on the achievements of the incorporation since its beginnings.

Today the Mäori reserved lands total approximately 26,000 hectares and are held in 2,087 leases. The main concentration of that land is in Taranaki.

I would like to congratulate all those involved with the Incorporation, who have made it a successful business. It is no small achievement to have grown the Incorporation into the commanding economic force it is today.

Parininihi ki Waitotara is often held up as a modern symbol of Mäori economic development. It is often cited as a model incorporation, to which fledgling and developing Mäori trusts and incorporations aspire and from which fledgling and developing Mäori incorporations can learn valuable lessons.

Finally, I look to the future and I ask myself, where will Parininihi ki Waitotara be in another 25 years? It is possible to envisage PKW as a significant player in the New Zealand economy. It be great for PKW to be a significant player in the global economy. Imagine the positive impact that could have on our whanau whanui!

I leave you with that thought.

Nö reira …

ENDS

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