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Labour’s Maori Trustee move state-sanctioned theft

Tau Henare MP
National Party Maori Affairs Spokesman
(Education & TPK)
Georgina te Heuheu MP
National Party Maori Affairs Spokeswoman
(Culture & Development)

5 March 2008

Labour’s Maori Trustee move state-sanctioned theft

A Labour Government proposal to take $35 million from the Maori Trustee to build a Maori economic development agency is just another way for Labour MPs to write cheques to buy the Maori vote, says National’s Maori Affairs (TPK and Education) spokesman, Tau Henare.

The Maori Trustee and Maori Development Amendment Bill revamps the Maori Trustee and Maori Trust Office and uses beneficiary money to set up a multimillion-dollar business fund.

“But not only is Labour doing this to buy the Maori vote, it is also theft. This bill proposes to use other people’s money – money held in trust – to establish this agency.

“This is money owed to small landowners or their children or their grandchildren. This is money that has been held in trust when Maori landowners cannot be found, when descendants haven’t inherited it yet, or because owners have asked for it to be held.

“Of course, Labour will try to argue that this money has been sitting in this account for years, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not theirs to use.

“And anyway, what have they done to find the owners? You don’t find the owners by sitting on your chuff. You find them by getting out in the community and looking.

“National fully supports Maori economic development but don’t go and steal other people’s money to do it.”

Georgina te Heuheu says not only does Labour want to take money from the trust, “they are now also talking about also using money from the Crown Forests Rental Trust.

“The problem is, that money was set aside to be used exclusively to settle historical grievances over land that includes Crown forests. That is also theft because that money is specifically for those claims.

“Last year the Waitangi Tribunal described the Government’s move to make itself a beneficiary of the Crown Forests Rental Trust as ‘a breach of the principles and duties imposed by the Treaty of Waitangi’.

Tau Henare says: “This is a blatant bid by the Labour Party to try to get Maori back on board – and they’re stealing Maori money to do it. How unfair and how desperate is that?”


ENDS

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