· Social housing reforms came into effect this week allowing third-party entities (including iwi groups) to provide government-subsidised social housing. I.e. selected social housing providers are now able to offer income-related rents to eligible tenants, with the Government providing financial top-ups to ensure viability for housing providers. Pānui 41/2013 outlines this policy change, and other significant housing policy changes in more detail. We advise these policy reforms will have a marked impact on Māori, given high Māori use of state and social housing (circa 70,000 Māori live in state houses), and iwi interests in offering housing provisions.
· This week Tau Henare announced that he will retire from politics at the General Election.
· An application by Patricia Grace to the Māori Land Court to convert some whānau land to Māori reservation land has been successful. The purpose of this was to avert the land being acquired by the Crown under the Public Works Act for the further development of the Kapiti Expressway. The Crown has indicated it will appeal the decision. (Pānui 8/2014 provides further details on this matter.)
· This month an application by two trustees on the Crown Forestry Rental Trust (Sir Edward Durie and Maanu Paul) to replace the current Chair (Angela Foulkes) with a non-voting Chair was rejected by High Court Judge, Joe Williams, who instead requested that the parties work through a further mediation process (which commenced this week). Justice Williams has also determined that a previous decision to remove trustee Alan Haronga and replace him with Neville Back was invalid, as it was not properly supported by both of the two Māori appointing bodies (the Federation of Māori Authorities and The New Zealand Māori Council). Pānui editions 4/2014, 38/2013 and 22/2013 provide details on the internal discord within this Trust, for subscribers that are following this matter. The referal from the Court to a formal mediated-process presents as a positive development for this Trust.
· The Government has amended its Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill to remove a clause allowing iwi fishing quota owners an extension until 2020 before implementing changes which prohibit the use of foreign charter vessels. Pānui 17/2012 outlines this matter in detail. We are current undertaking a further assessment of this policy change and will advise accordingly.