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Heathen Trust Bill Progresses

A bill giving land back to an iwi after it was taken off them to fund their, and others, conversion to Christianity has completed its first reading.

The private bill’s sponsor Te Ururoa Flavell Flavell said the New Zealand Mission Trust Board (Otamataha) Empowering Bill put right a 117 year old wrong.

The bill amends a trust which was set up to convert Maori to Christianity and evangelise to all "heathen races''.

The New Zealand Mission Trust was set up by first missionaries in the early 19th century, and still holds land in central Tauranga which local Maori want to regain control of.

The Church Mission Society bought two large blocks of land in 1838 in what is now the centre of Tauranga, most of this was later gifted to the Crown. However some was Mission Trust for the purposes of evangelism though local Maori have long contested the land sale and the transfer to the Crown.

The bill transfers the Tauranga land - around 8000sq m - to a new organisation, the Otamataha Trust, which is run by members of Bay of Plenty hapu Ngati Tapu and Ngaitamarawaho.

It was given its first reading on a voice vote and sent to the Maori Affairs Committee for consideration.

MPs began the committee stage of the Conservation (Natural Heritage Protection) Bill

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