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Foundation Law Overdue For Overhaul

14 December 2000 Media Statement

Minister for Land Information Matt Robson today announced a major review of the Public Works Act 1981.

The Public Works Act affects every New Zealander. It has allowed the Government and local authorities to acquire land for ‘public works’ such as schools, hospitals, roads and airports.

The Review of the Act seeks public input on how the Act should be changed for the new millennium.

“It’s been 20 years since the last review and in that time New Zealand has undergone significant economic and state sector reform," says Mr Robson.

"The increasing importance of the Treaty of Waitangi has also put the Crown’s land-related activities under greater scrutiny.

"The law is clearly showing its age and needs to be overhauled to give the Public Works Act a 21st century perspective,” says Matt Robson.

The public Review raises a number of basic questions:

 what is a ‘public work’?
 how should Treaty of Waitangi obligations be met?
 who should be able to exercise public works powers?
 how should land be acquired?
 who should be compensated and to what extent?
 how should land that’s been acquired for public works be treated if it’s no longer needed?
 how should compliance be enforced, especially where former public works have been transferred to private organisations that continue to provide public services?

People will have strong views about the questions raised.

"Strong discussion adds to the integrity of the review. Public consultation is crucial and the Government wants as many people as possible to have their say,” says Matt Robson.

"While the Act has largely been responsible for creating New Zealand’s transport infrastructure, schools, hospitals and other amenities these developments had costs, particularly for Maori. Land was sometimes taken in the face of strong protest.

"Government departments are dealing with these grievances as they arise.

"The Review is not the forum to resolve these issues. But it is a chance to change the Act so these issues can be better managed.”

“We also need to strike a balance between the benefits of private land ownership and the wider desire for public facilities, amenities and access.”

As a starting point, Land Information New Zealand has produced a discussion paper setting out the background, outlining some issues and suggesting some options.

The discussion paper contains a chapter dedicated to Maori concerns.

Consultation begins in December and finishes at the end of March 2001. The Review is expected to take until 2002 when the Government is likely to introduce a Bill to Parliament.

There are several ways submissions to the Review can be made:

 using the submission form on the LINZ website: web site http://www.pwareview.linz.govt.nz
 emailing a submission to pwareview@linz.govt.nz
 faxing a submission to 04 498 3519; or
 posting the submission form in the discussion document to LINZ.


For further information please contact:

Senior policy analyst Karin Knedler
(04) 460 0171 kknedler@linz.govt.nz

Senior communications adviser Michael Mead
(04) 498 3516 mmead@linz.govt.nz


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