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'Move on' - Minister Davis responds to Greens' plan for return of private land to Māori

The Māori-Crown Relations Minister has taken a dim view of the Green Party's call to reinstate the Waitangi Tribunal's power to make recommendations on private land. The Greens are looking at ways to return private land to Māori including the Crown buying it, then giving Māori the first right of refusal.

Land was stolen, should it be bought back?

Māori Minister Kelvin Davis says it's time to "move on and get on with things." The reinstatement of the Waitangi Tribunal's original powers also gets a "no" from the Prime Minister,  who says. "That's not something we're giving consideration to."

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says, "Reinstating this ability would allow Crown acquisition of dispossessed whenua for subsequent transfer."

While iwi in Minister Davis' own constituency have not yet settled, the minister believes "it's time we moved on as a people."  That seems to align with National's Simon Bridges saying, "property rights do matter," adding "If you take the area I live in most of the Bay of Plenty would be up for grabs."

Opposition to taking private land

"In the end there's a history, there's injustices done but, where we want to be now is not where we take private land," Bridges says.

"Returning whenua to tangata whenua is the right thing to do," Davidson says.

The Green Party is calling for a discussion of the return of private land to Māori, "making land available to give back to tangata whenua, which will make good outcomes for all of us, which will help us move on."

The Greens'document also looks at other pathways for the Crown to buy back land and offer first right of refusal to Māori.

The party also argues that, while first right of refusal has been a mechanism used by the Crown, it can be difficult for Māori to be in a position to buy the land.

"We recognise the limitations of this option, as it requires iwi, hapu and whanau to spend money buying land that was wrongfully taken from them initially. On principle, tāngata whenua should not have to buy back land that was stolen from them — it should be returned by the Crown."

The goal is to have a conversation but if the stance by the main parties is anything to go by, the conversation may be onesided