New Zealand’s Indigenous Land Grant Scheme (ILGS) is being transformed into a $3.8 billion investment, with a new $5 billion project planned for remote north-west Nelson.
The announcement comes as Indigenous leaders across the country prepare for a day of protest as the federal government launches a $1.5 billion Indigenous land grant programme.
“This new project is a huge step forward for our community, and will provide the Indigenous communities in the region with the most effective land management and governance structures to build the future of our community,” said Nelson Mayor Tom Murch.
Mr Murch also called for more funding for the Indigenous land system.
“We are now in a position to be able to develop a system that can really manage the land, and protect it, and we’re looking to support and support those in the north-western Nelson region,” he said.
“This is a big opportunity for us to build on what has already been done, and to develop an investment that can make this an even bigger opportunity.”
A spokesperson for the federal department said the $5bn Indigenous Land grant would provide a “new and more flexible way to manage the lands of our remote northern communities”.
“The new Indigenous land fund will be able, with the help of the federal and state governments, to improve the governance and management of these land assets,” the spokesperson said.
More than 10,000 people have already signed a petition calling for the fund to be scrapped, while Indigenous leaders are also planning a day-long protest on Monday, when Indigenous leaders from Nelson, Whanganui and Taranaki will gather in front of the Nelson City Hall.
A statement from the Department of the Environment said the new Indigenous Land fund was a “major investment in land management” and “could be an essential part of our future land management”.
“Our aim is to build a more effective, sustainable, and effective Indigenous Land system that will be resilient to change, and be able provide better protection for our land and water resources, and our people,” it said.