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Maori Freehold Land Rating 

The following is the basis of a recommendation on 15 April, linked at:

It concerns the fraught matter of Policy on the Remission and Postponement of Rates on Maori Freehold Land. The matter is sensitive relating as it does to rating issues that have been in dispute for over 100 years, and in particular, as far as this District is concerned, to land covered by the 1877 Road Rates Agreement between Thames County Council and Ngati Maru, the intent of which remains to be honoured, or even its existence as a legal entity acknowledged.

The Maori Land Court in fact ruled in 1929 the  Agreement ultra vires the powers of the Council - a ruling that was never recognised by Ngati Maru. Clearly, staff live in hope that the Settlement will clarify the issue. They should not hold their breath.

Ngati Maru clearly believe (and this is yet to be tested ) that the Agreement obviates the need to pay rates as quid pro quo for the transfer of land to the Crown for the pupose of establishing roads through the areas of the Hauraki under Ngati Maru control. between Thames and Hikutaia. 

A substantial amount of rates remain unpaid and in dispute as a result, and it has been the practice in the past that these amounts owing have been written off after five years, apparently with the concurance of the Auditor General.

It is clear that staff are reluctant to stir sleeping dogs in regard to this matter, particularly with the prospect of the imminent Settlement with the Hauraki Collective that is anticipated to be signed off in September this year. I will leave you to judge the delicacy of the language used in this paper, and the reluctance to become further involved in any change of policy while the Settlement is at this stage.

Extract from paper on the matter for submission to Council on 15 April.

Matters for Consideration

Staff would like to bring two matters regarding the Policy on the Remission and Postponement of Rates on Māori Freehold Land to the attention of the Council.

1) Staff have identified that an area for improvement within the current Policy is to better define the Policy objectives.   In the absence of a written definition for these objectives they can be subject to interpretation.

However, the staff view is that now is not the optimal time to review the Policy.   This matter is canvassed in the following point.

2) The staff view is that the Policy would be best reviewed following completion of the Treaty Settlement process.   This would then enable the impact of the settlements to be considered in the review.

A Deed of Settlement between the Crown and the Hauraki Collective is due to be signed by September 2011.   This timetable is, however, indicative.   Following the Deed of Settlement a Bill will also need to be proposed to Parliament.

It is suggested that the desirability of reviewing the policy during the current Ten Year Plan process be reviewed in September 2011. whether or not to review the Policy alongside the 2012-2022 Ten Year Plandepending on timing, the Council may have to arrange a separate consultation process should it want to review this Policy outside the Ten Year Plan process.

Council also will have the option to not review the Policy and wait until the 2015-2015 Ten Year Plan.

Matters for Review

For the reasons above, staff consider that it is not the optimal time to review the Policy on the Remission and Postponement of Rates on Māori Freehold Land, and that the Policy should remain unchanged for the time being.

Well that's a relief! All bets are off on any motion to postpone the matter until way, way in the future.



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