Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, April 23, 2007

Maori land over-valued for rating

The head of an independent review panel on rating says a lot of Maori land is over-valued for rating purposes.

David Shand says some clear messages have come out of a series of consultation hui, including problems with valuation, a lack of willingness by councils to engage with Maori on land issues, and questions over whether the rating system is consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi.

Mr Shand says it's clear a hard look is needed at the basis for valuation of Maori land.

“There's plenty of examples of what appears to be completely inappropriate valuations of the land and of course the basic principle that land is valued on the basis of willing buyer-willing seller is not appropriate for Maori land, so there are clearly some major problems regarding over-valuation of the land for rating purposes,” Mr Shand says.

Maori are substantial landowners and ratepayers in many areas, and their concerns need to be better addressed.


A former head of the Kohanga Reo National Trust says the Maori pre-school movement has empowered a generation of women.

Iritana Tawhiwhirangi says their achievements should be celebrated as part of Mana Wahine week this week.

Mrs Tawhiwhirangi says kohanga reo worked on a whanau model, relying not just on kai ako or teachers but on mothers and grandmothers taking part.

She says in the early years, much of the language was being delivered by older kuia, while mothers were learning vital lessons in administration and management.

Mrs Tawhiwhirangi says it wet their appetites for more.

“The kohanga reo is like they used to have kumara plants planted together to be able to plant out later. That was really the concept of these parents, mothers, being there, that they would, once their children moved on, they would then pursue their own talents,” Mrs Tawhiwhirangi says.

She says many of that first generation of kohanga reo mothers are now in senior positions in the Maori world or in academia.


The head of the Maori Tourism Council says Maori operaters could be using the Internet more effectively.

Johnny Edmonds says New Zealand has been marketed as a destination, rather than a tourism experience.

He says most Maori tourism operators have web sites, but they fail to give prospective visitors a taste of the sort of memories they could take away from an encounter with tangata whenua.

“To what extent are the websites enabling visitors to understand the experiences that they could have if they were to come here, and hen supporting that with products and services. Just having products and services there for convenience may in itself not be enough,” Mr Edmonds says.


The head of the Local Government Rating Inquiry says councils haven't done enough to tackle Maori concerns about rates.

David Shand says it's clear much Maori land is inappropriately valued, so the rates on it are too high.

He says a consistent theme which came through from consultation hui was a lack of willingness by councils to engage with Maori on land issues.

“It's all just too hard and nobody has any training. People write to the council about issues of valuation and get fobbed off. Some councils don’t do a good job. They just can’t be bothered training their people to properly handle Maori land issues,” Mr Shand says.

Councils need sensible policies about dealing with accumulated rates, so they are not discouraging development of unproductive Maori land.


Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says new migrants need Treaty of Waitangi training to counteract negative attitudes towards Maori.

Mrs Turia says the New Zealand Ethnic Council has taken some steps down that road, and she's been impressed by its efforts.

“They think it’s very important for their people coming into this country to know the history of this land so they can participate in a way that’s about understanding the issues rather than speaking against,” Mrs Turia says.

She says Maori want to have input into immigration policy.


Maori artist Robyn Kahukiwa is welcoming a proposals to charge a royalty on the resale of artworks.

The government has released a proposal that dealers and auction houses pay an artist or their estate a percentage of the resale price.

Kahukiwa says while her paintings are now highly sought after, art is rarely a lucrative career and taking up painting full time requires faith and sacrifice.

“Even though I was married and had children, I had to support myself. My husband was very keen on me giving up teaching and doing art, but it’s always been a struggle. I think a lot of Maori artists would be love to do it all the time but they can’t get that financial base to even just survive,” Kahukiwa says.

She regrets she has had to sell many of her best works ovcer the years to keep the bills paid.


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