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No. 5 (Spring 1953)
– 61 –

(NO. 2), 1953

The Maori Affairs Bill recently introduced to Parliament is the third version to be prepared.

In 1952, the first Bill was printed and allowed to lapse, with the idea of giving an opportunity for comment and discussion by the Maori people and by lawyers and others interested. Several hundred copies of the Bill, with explanatory leaflets were circulated throughout the country, to reach all Tribal Executives and other Maori groups and leaders. Radio talks were given, articles printed in Te Ao Hou, and other steps taken to publicise the contents of the Bill.

In April, 1953, another version of the Bill was introduced, incorporating the result of many comments and suggestions received on the 1952 Bill. It was clear at this stage, that many people had not yet prepared their detailed views on the new proposals and the Minister stated that, if necessary, he would bring down a further Bill later in the year, thus allowing time for further representations to be considered. Explanatory leaflets on this Bill were also circulated.

Disposal of Interests on Death:

The new Bill again contains important changes, chiefly concerning succession and disposal of interests of a deceased owner of Maori land. The new provisions give a greater degree of responsibility and discretion to the Maori Land Court. The proposals are, briefly, as follows:


The interests in Maori land of a deceased owner do not vest in the Maori Trustee or any other person until orders are made by the Court.


On application to the Court by any person interested or by the Registrar or Maori Trustee the Court determines as at present, the persons entitled to succeed.


The Court then goes on to dispose of the interests and may, without application, make exchanges, or give effect to agreements among successors or use any of its general powers. Interests not affected by arrangements or exchanges, etc., go to the successors.


The Court in disposing of the interests as above, is not to vest in any person an interest which together with his other interests in the same land is not in the Court's opinion of a value greater than £50 unless


the interest has been specifically left to that person in the will of the deceased; or


the interest, together with other interests of that person could, in the Court's view, be partitioned out to provide a worthwhile section for building or other purposes and is likely to be used in this way within a reasonable time.


If an interest cannot otherwise be disposed of as above, because of its value or because no arrangement is possible, the Court is to vest it in the Maori Trustee for the Conversion Fund, at a price fixed by the Court, but the Maori Trustee is not bound to accept such an interest. If he does not, it goes to the successors or as may be agreed by them.


The other main subject on which changes are proposed in the Bill is that of incorporation. Here provision is made for more frequent election of committees of management; voting powers of owners to be in accordance with the value of their interests; the keeping of accounts and so on.

Some copies of the Bill are held by District Offices of the Department of Maori Affairs for study by any person interested.