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On the 6th of April, the Whenua Māori Rating Amendment Bill passed its third reading which aims to reduce the barriers for Māori landowners who wish to better utilise and develop their whenua, particularly for those who have rates arrears. The Local Government (Rating of Whenua Māori) Amendment Act 2021 will result in the following key changes to the rating of Māori land:
- Historic rate arrears on unused Māori land will be automatically removed.
- Future rates will not be charged on wholly unused land blocks.
- Local authorities must write off outstanding rates on land they consider to be ‘unrecoverable’.
- Māori landowners can apply for the remission of rates (either reducing the amount owing or waiving the collection of rates) while their Māori freehold land is being developed.
- Outstanding rate arrears for Ngā Whenua Rāhui (Māori land protected for conservation purposes) will be written off and rates will not be payable for Ngā Whenua Rāhui.
- Clarification that homes situated on Māori reservations are liable to rates.
- Māori landowners can apply to have multiple Māori land blocks (from the same parent block) to be treated as one for rating purposes.
- Marae (on all kinds of land, not just those located on a Māori reservation) will be non-rateable.
- Rates were not previously payable for an area of land up to two hectares that is used as a marae or urupā. This two hectare limit will be removed.
The changes will come into effect either on 31 July 2021 or the day after royal assent.
Credit: Ministry of Māori Development
If anyone is interested in discussing this or if you have any questions about how the proposed changes may affect you or your whānau, please contact our Te Tira Hau Ture (Māori legal services) team.