On 27 February 2020, the Local Government (Rating of Whenua Māori) Amendment Bill (the “Bill”) was introduced to Parliament. It is intended to support the development of, and provision of housing on Māori land; and modernise rating legislation affecting Māori land.

The Bill proposes a number of changes to the the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002, including:

  1. Providing discretionary powers to the chief executives of local authorities to write off outstanding rates of deceased owners of Māori freehold land or if the rates are deemed to be unable to recovered.

  2. Making unusued Māori land and land that is subject to Ngā Whenua Rāhui kawenata, non-ratetable. Māori land is defined as unused if:

a. There is no person actually using any part of the rated Māori land; or

b. The land is used in a similar manner to a reserve or conservation area and no part is leased by any person, used as residential accommodation, or used for any activity other than for personal visits to the land or personal collections of kai, cultural or medicinal material from the land.

3. Creating a statutory process by which local authorities must consider application for rates remissions on Māori freehold land if the ratepayer is developing or intends to develop the land.

The bill is presently at the select committee stage and submissions are due by 17 May 2020. More information on the Bill can be located at: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/make-a-submission/document/52SCMA_SCF_BILL_94968/local-government-rating-of-whenua-m%C4%81ori-amendment-bill

If you wish to make submissions to the select committee on this Bill, it is advisable to speak with a professional experienced in this area.