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A cause for nervousness: The proposed Māori land reforms in New Zealand

Paerau Warbrick


This commentary reflects upon the major Māori land reforms in te Ture Whenua Māori Bill (2016). The reforms implement more bureaucracy and replace some mechanisms used by the Māori Land Court to protect against Māori land loss. The Waitangi Tribunal, which has dealt with Māori grievances over land loss for over 30 years, issued a critical report in March 2016 along with recommendations about the reforms. That report was largely ignored by the New Zealand Government. This commentary contains a review of the literature on Māori land to date, as it helps to understand the ideas behind the Tribunal’s report as well as the reforms. There is also an examination of the main points made by the Waitangi Tribunal, as well as aspects of te Ture Whenua Māori Bill (2016). The overall conclusion is that the Māori people should be very nervous about the reforms for their lands.

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Print ISSN 1177-1801 Online ISSN 1174-1740