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Whenua Māori Rating Amendment Bill passes third reading

The Māori Trustee Dr Charlotte Severne welcomes the passing of the Whenua Māori Rating Amendment Bill at its third reading in Parliament.

The Bill will update rating laws for whenua Māori that haven’t been reviewed since 1924.

“Te Tumu Paeroa acknowledges that we now have a Rating Act that recognises the uniqueness of whenua Māori and its ownership structures, and provides a rating system that is fair and equitable for Māori,” says Dr Severne.

The Bill introduced by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta amends the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 in relation to whenua Māori and will:

Provide local authorities with the power to write off rates arrears and a statutory remission process for development.

Make unused Māori land unrateable, this including land subject to Ngā Whenua Rāhui kawenata (protected conservation land).

Provide the option for separate rate accounts for multiple homes on Māori land (giving home owners access to the rates rebate scheme).

Provide the opportunity for local authorities to treat multiple blocks of Māori land as one block for rating purposes, provided they come from the same original block.

Modernise the rating system affecting Māori land including:

  • protecting Māori land arbitrarily reclassified as general land in the late 1960s and early 1970s from 'abandoned land sales',
  • clarifying land trustees' obligations in respect of rates,
  • and updating and clarifying the exemptions that apply to marae and urupa.

The new provisions will come into force on 1 July 2021. All other substantive laws will come into force the day after Royal Assent.

“We look forward to working with Local Government in supporting these amendments,” says Dr Severne. “We’ll also continue to engage with our owners on how we can utilise these new tools to enhance and develop whenua Māori.”

You can find the full Whenua Māori Rating Amendment Bill here.

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