A Members’ Bill which would stop compulsory land acquisitions from whenua Māori is before Parliament, and the Green Party launched a campaign at Rātana calling on all Members of Parliament to support it.
Catherine Delahunty’s Members’ Bill, The Public Works (Prohibition of Compulsory Acquisition of Māori Land) Amendment Bill, would amend the Public Works Act to specifically protect Māori customary and freehold land from being compulsorily taken by the Crown for public works (like roads).
Dame Whina Cooper led the land march hikoi to Parliament under the banner of “Not one more acre of Māori land”, and it is from here our campaign is named. This Bill was inspired by Patricia Grace and her whānau in Kapiti who were threatened with confiscation under the Public Works Act to build a road. In 2014, Grace took her case to both the Environment Court and the Māori Land Court. The Environment Court deemed that the taking of the land would “not be fair to do so, nor reasonably necessary”, a decision that government has decided not to appeal. It is not fair to expect whānau to have to take the Government to court to protect their whenua.
Compulsory acquisition of land using the Public Works Act cuts across Article Two of te Tiriti o Waitangi, which guarantees rangatiratanga. Confiscating land in this manner by the Government has been at the heart of many land grievances, and it is important that those who have fought for this in the past are acknowledged and that justice is achieved for them.
In 2009, less than 5 percent of land in New Zealand was Māori customary and freehold land, and any further unwanted Government confiscations would be a mistake. Public works justification has historically, and recently, been used as a way of confiscating land from Māori and often not in the interests of Māori.
What can you do?
This Bill will be voted on in Parliament later this year. You can sign the Green Party petition to add your voice and put pressure on MPs to vote for the Bill or you could also contact your MP directly.