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Maori to get access to landlocked land

Maori to get access to landlocked land

Maori locked out of their land will get fairer opportunity to access it under proposed changes to Maori land laws referred to select committee Maori Affairs Minister, Hon Tau Henare, said today.

Te Ture Whenua Maori Act is to be amended to improve the ability of the Maori Land Court to grant access to landlocked Maori land.

Mr Henare said the changes would be a "godsend" for Maori locked out of their land.

"I've always said where there's a will, there's a way, and as far as I'm concerned this is a significant step in the right direction," he said.

"The options for Maori landowners to reap any rewards from their land are limited if they can't get any physical access to their land because the goodwill doesn't exist to allow that to happen. Thus the reason for the change."

Mr Henare said providing the Maori Land Court with a greater ability to create legal access to landlocked land would:

* Remove the cost barrier for Maori applicants * Be generally less time consuming * Give greater opportunity for Maori land owners to become active participants in proceedings * Utilise the courts' long historical association with Maori land owners and the complex legislative history that has governed Maori land * Ensure that the court retained its exclusive jurisdiction over all dealings relating to Maori land tenure

Mr Henare said estimates suggest that up to 30% of the Maori land blocks throughout the country may not have legal formed access and that more Maori land is landlocked than general land.

"My message to those Maori affected by this sort of pathetic inequity throughout my tenure has and will continue to be consistent: why hope for change when we can make it happen."

ENDS

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