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Govt Offering $10m To Māori While Trading Away $7bn

The Government’s announcement of a $10 million fund to help support economic development for Māori landowners is a paltry and insulting attempt to compensate for a massive confiscation of land value and economic opportunity, according to leading independent organisation for Māori business, Te Taumata.

Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson today announced that the Government plans to invest $10 million to help Māori realise their aspirations for their whenua.

Te Taumata Chair Chris Karamea Insley says the initiative announced today is a shameful attempt at misdirection on the part of the Government, while they are attempting to undertake the largest confiscation of Māori land value in recent memory.

“This announcement underscores a fundamental failure from Labour,” says Chris Karamea Insley. “They are disregarding what truly matters to Māori, which is the opportunity to chart our own course and determine our own destiny as a true partner in Te Tiriti.

“It is appalling that members of the Māori caucus were prepared to turn up today in Whangarei to front the Government’s offer of $10 million in the knowledge that their party is proposing to remove $7 billion of value from the Māori economy.

“The best way to unlock whenua Māori – the stated aim of today’s policy – is to allow Māori the right to fully participate in the carbon economy. The barriers Minister Jackson mentioned, including ‘difficulties resulting from complex ownership structures, landlocked land, and legislative restrictions’ are very real – so why is the Government adding more legislative barriers, and aiming to regulate away one of our best opportunities to realise the true value of whenua Māori?”

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Chris Insley says the Government is failing to recognise the depth of feeling across the motu in reaction to their proposal to make significant changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Government’s proposal to remove exotics from the permanent category of the ETS will have major impacts on Māori forestry interests, costing the Māori economy almost $7 billion. Around 55% of Whenua Māori is currently in forestry, with more than 146,000 hectares of otherwise low productivity land suitable for permanent forestry.

“What this Government fails to understand is that this issue is Labour’s new foreshore and seabed moment. They are denying Māori the rights to use our land as we see fit and doing massive harm to the value of Whenua Māori. In doing so, they are closing off a potentially transformational opportunity for Māori to participate in the carbon economy.

“Through participation in the carbon economy, Māori have the opportunity to make a multi-generational investment in our own future, while making a significant contribution to Aotearoa’s climate commitments.”

Chris Insley says the real tragedy of the Government’s proposal is that the money will need to be spent anyway.

“If we don’t create those offsets here, through forestry planted and managed on our own lands – with benefits flowing through every Iwi, hapū and whanau – the Government will have to spend that money offshore to meet our climate commitments by buying international carbon credits,” says Chris Insley.

“It is fiscally irresponsible for the Government to send billions of taxpayer dollars offshore – especially during a cost-of-living crisis – when there is a homegrown, Māori-led solution available here in Aotearoa which can be delivered at no cost to the taxpayer.”

Te Taumata will be part of a delegation of Māori leaders and forestry experts who will be travelling to Wellington to meet with Ministers on 9th June, after Climate Minister James Shaw cancelled a commitment to attend a hui in Rotorua on Wednesday.

“This Government is continuing to fail in its obligations to act in good faith as partners with Māori. But we are determined to make our voices heard, so we will be coming in Wellington in numbers for this hastily arranged, last minute meeting.”

“Our message will be, enough! There is no basis for partnership under Te Tiriti when you are attempting to lay your foundations for shared climate action on stolen ground!”

“It’s also time for the Māori caucus to start truly representing the needs of our people. We will not be ignored, we will not be marginalised, and we will not stand by while the Government trades away our future to appease the lobbies of pakeha farmers.”

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