A report commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries has shown there’s $8 billion potential held in over one million hectares of Maori freehold land.
Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says:
The report Growing the Productive Base of Māori Freehold Land estimates that lifting productivity to average industry benchmarks could result in an additional $8 billion in gross output and 3,600 new jobs for the primary sector. To achieve the estimated gains an investment in the land of just under $3 billion would be required.
“The potential for Maori freehold land represents an opportunity for Maori, the wider primary sector and New Zealand as a whole,” says Mr Guy.
“The report confirms that some iwi are well organised and have their asset base generating good returns, while others haven’t realised their true potential yet.
“It is ultimately up to Maori to work out how to realise that potential, but Government has an important role partnering with Māori as leaders in driving a change.
“The proposed reforms to the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act announced by Minister for Treaty Settlements Chris Finlayson and Minister of Māori Affairs Dr Pita Sharples today will be an important step towards unlocking this potential,” says Mr Guy.
Late last year the Ministry for Primary Industries provided close to $3 million in funding for initiatives to promote sustainability and innovation amongst Maori agribusinesses.
The Ministry is also working with education agencies, training providers and other stakeholders to identify the opportunities to provide targeted training to Maori agribusinesses.
The Maori collective asset base is estimated at $37 billion. Approximately 30 per cent ($10.6 billion) is estimated to be in the primary sectors.
The full report is here.
This is a huge untapped resource which could benefit the landowners, their local communities and the wider economy.
Releasing it requires some changes to the complex rules governing Maori land.
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples and Associate Minister Chris Finlayson have released a discussion document on how to improve the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, and Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993.
The purpose of the document is to seek views on how best to ensure that Te Ture Whenua Māori Act unlocks the economic potential of Māori land while preserving its cultural significance for future generations.
There are over 27,137 blocks of Māori land under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, comprising 1.42 million hectares, or around 5% of the total land in New Zealand. It has been estimated up to 80% of Māori land is under-performing for its owners.
“The proposals of the expert review group will contribute to building a more productive and competitive economy as part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda,” Mr Finlayson said. “There is huge potential in Māori land that has been held back by flawed legislation and complex regulation.”
“The propositions seek to provide the appropriate legislative framework for the retention of Māori land while at the same time making it easier for engaged owners to use and develop the land for the benefit of whānau, hapū and iwi,” he said. “The benefits for Māori and the country as a whole are potentially very significant.”
The Minister of Māori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples said that this process will contribute to He kai kei aku ringa: the Crown-Māori Economic Growth Partnership Strategy and Action Plan, by looking at how government can support Maori development of this cultural, and economic resource.
“Whenua is a cornerstone of our Māori identity,” Dr Sharples said. “Maori land owners should be supported to develop or retain their resource, in line with the aspirations they have for their own development.”
“There are many Maori land blocks that remain unutilised; that represents a huge potential for economic, social and cultural development for tangata whenua.”
The discussion document looks at on-going challenges, such as effectively providing for the use and management of Māori land in the face of continuing fragmentation of land interests, and the result that 80% of Māori land remains underdeveloped.
The expert review panel’s propositions are:
- Utilisation of Māori land should be able to be determined by a majority of engaged owners;
- All Māori land should be capable of utilisation and effective administration;
- Māori land should have effective, fit for purpose, governance;
- There should be an enabling institutional framework to support owners of Māori land to make decisions and resolve any disputes;
- Excessive fragmentation of Māori land should be discouraged.
The panel will hold a series of regional hui during April and May in areas with high concentrations of Māori land and/or Māori land owners.
The discussion document is here.