Maori land being cashed up

Monday 12 July 2004

With their land under-developed and mired in debt, Maori land-owners are again beginning to sell off their birthright after decades spent trying to save it.

By The Landlord

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia says he knows of about 50 Maori blocks on the verge of being sold, often to wealthy foreign developers seeking waterfront opportunities.

The government is examining potentially dramatic options to stop a new era of land sales, including changing Maori ownership structures or requiring nearly 100% approval from the multiple owners of land blocks before they can be sold.

The land has as many problems as it has owners: much of it is inaccessible, banks are loath to lend money for its development and a Sunday Star-Times investigation shows more than $26 million owed or written off last year in rates debt.

"One of my real fears is that anything that's got a sea view, any Maori land, is open for plunder," Horomia said.

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