As we honour the 183rd anniversary of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, we must consider both the future we want to build and the legacy of our past. We look towards an Aotearoa where the collective and individual wellbeing of all of our people thrive.

But for some Māori landowners, unjust legal systems from our colonial past continue today. For over 120 years many Māori landowners have had their rights stripped from them, being forced to lease their land, with no real say on what terms. This is because of “perpetual leases” – a type of lease abolished in the United Kingdom over 100 years ago.

Meanwhile, here in Aotearoa, Māori landowners forced into this arrangement are denied the right to live on their land, the right to care for and manage their land how they see fit, the right to nurture and grow a future for themselves and future generations. The rights to their land were handed over to others, with no suitable redress.

For over more than a century the government administrators who were meant to act in the best interest of Māori owners instead leased out the land for a pittance, with perpetual renewal rights. In doing so they privileged settlers and their descendants at the expense and serious disadvantage of the Māori landowners.

Under perpetual leases, lands are essentially removed from the control of the Māori owners. This denies and prevents their tino rangatiratanga. In fact if any Māori owner were to even walk on their lands under perpetual leases they would be regarded as trespassers.

This egregious colonial tool has got to end. The Government has the power to do this through legislation, and through assisting with negotiations.

Ending perpetual leases would enable Māori landowners to regain control of their lands and finally return to them the ability to develop and utilise their lands for the benefit of their whānau and hapū.

Help put an end to an injustice from the colonial era that continues to this day - abolish perpetual leases on Māori land.