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Special Treatment For Maori Landowners

Special Treatment For Maori Landowners

Some local authorities are being far too tolerant of Maori landowners who don't pay their rates, at the expense of law-abiding landowners who do, ACT New Zealand Auckland-based MP Deborah Coddington said today.

"On March 18, Auckland City Council publicly admitted that rates on freehold Maori land in Auckland have gone unpaid as `it is too difficult to collect them'," Miss Coddington said.

"In response to this shocking admission, I asked a Parliamentary Question of Local Government Minister Chris Carter to reveal any reports he had received regarding unpaid rates on Maori freehold land.

"He replied that, in regard to the Far North District Council, `rates arrears on Maori freehold land continue to be a significant issue faced by Council'.

"Mr Carter is trying to wash his hands of this problem by saying this is a matter for individual authorities to address. But councils that fail to develop a policy on this issue are breaching the Local Government Act.

"Auckland City Council says it will continue to breach this Act until 2006. What will the Minister do about it? Allow the unpaid rates burden to fall on landowners who do pay - many of whom are Maori?

"When the rest of us are threatened with mortgagee sales for not paying our rates, why should Maori bother to pay theirs if councils think the rates are `too hard to collect?'

"And, if the Minister didn't even know about Auckland City Council breaching the Local Government Act, how many other local authorities are ignoring this issue in the vain hope it will go away?

"Councils throughout New Zealand spent almost 10 percent more in the December 2003 quarter than the December 2002 quarter. That, in itself, is a disgrace - and something Mr Carter should be concerned about.

"The fact that he appears untroubled that special treatment is given to landowners who happen to be Maori shows he is totally out of touch with New Zealand rate payers," Miss Coddington said.

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