Right of First Refusal..

or Refusal of First Right?

We are appalled that Nick Smith, Minister of Housing, has driven a bulldozer through Ngaati Whatua and Tainui Treaty settlements, claiming that the “right of first refusal” enshrined in them means nothing – that the government is entitled to sell designated Crown land (some already offered to iwi) to private land developers.   Surely even the most imaginative barrister cannot claim that privately owned land and dwellings will be another kind of Crown property? Or that land unwanted by government departments can now be sold to private developers and owners under the Public Works Act?

It is, quite simply, immoral, as well as probably illegal, for a Minister to act in this way. What he must do immediately is sit down with the iwi concerned and negotiate. In all probability, both iwi want to buy some of the land for their already planned community housing developments – and they would make a much better job of providing for families than private land developers out for a quick buck. Some of the land he is trying to alienate is of profound environmental, historical and spiritual significance – and this should placed under iwi guardianship as a matter of course.

Many taxpayers and voters – Pakeha as well as Maori – will be as angry as we are at the stupidity of the Minister of Housing , and expect his cabinet colleagues to talk some sense into him as soon as possible.

If this is how the present government treats Treaty settlements, look out anyone who owns land –

they’ll find a way to grab yours if it suits them.

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