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Maori land bill passes first reading

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/05/2016
Te Ururoa Flavell © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Te Ururoa Flavell

The bill that rewrites the laws around Maori land ownership has passed its first reading in parliament.

The Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill went through lengthy consultations, 17 drafts and more than 200 changes before it reached the debating chamber.

It's designed to ensure there are sufficient safeguards for the retention of Maori land while making it easier for owners to make decisions about how they want to use it.

The reforms replace the Maori Land Court process.

A Maori Land Service will provide an administrative framework and hold new responsibilities.

When Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell introduced the bill last month, despite the Waitangi Tribunal deciding it should be delayed, he said he was confident it had broad support among Maori.

"They want more support to develop their land and they want to protect their land - these fundamental concepts form the basis of this bill and the broader reform programme," he said.

The bill passed its first reading by 63 votes to 58.

Labour opposes the bill because it doesn't believe the safeguards are sufficient.

It has been sent to a select committee for public submissions.

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