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Maori Must Have Say In Local Govt Rating Inquiry

Maori must have a Say in Local Government Rating Inquiry

Local Government Spokesperson for Maori Party; Te Ururoa Flavell

Wednesday 1 November 2006

The Maori Party is pleased today, to read that the Government has finally released terms of reference for the rating inquiry.

“Although it would, of course, have been great if the Government had talked to us (the Maori Party) prior to the grand announcements, we naturally welcome any moves which state that public and key stakeholders will be invited to have a say” said Te Ururoa Flavell, Member for Waiariki.

“Previous experience, however, gives us little room for complacency in terms of the quality of consultation” said Mr Flavell. What we've learnt is that unless there are specific consultative forums where Maori can raise our particular issues, those issues generally don't get heard or addressed".

The 2004/05 audits released earlier this year by the Controller and Auditor-General stated that twelve local authorities had not complied with the requirement to make their summary report available by the statutory timeframe. The authorities were urged to lift their game, and to inform their communities promptly.

Under the Local Government Act 2002, section 102 (4)(f), a local authority must adopt "a policy on the remission and postponement of rates on Maori freehold land".

“Our people have frequently made the call, that Maori have been rated off our lands” said Mr Flavell. “Large tracts of Maori freehold land are unoccupied and unimproved. This land creates a significant rating burden on the Maori owners who often do not have the means or, in some cases, the desire to make economic use of the land”.

“We hope that the impact of burgeoning rates on Maori landowners will be adequately addressed in the task described as “examining the impact of rates on land covered by the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993”.

“I am hopeful that when the Government talks of the principles of ‘democracy, transparency, equity and accountability’ that it will actually amount to something in this inquiry” said Mr Flavell. “Maori must have a say, as mana whenua, and as key stakeholders, regarding local body rates and the relationship with local authorities”.

ends

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