$100m for Māori landowners 'complete waste of money' - Simon Bridges

Simon Bridges thinks the $100 million given to Maori landowners from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is a waste of money. 

Asked what he thought about the funding boost, the National leader told The AM Show on Monday that the money aimed at enhancing under-utilised land was a "complete waste". 

"The Government is making exactly the same mistake they made on KiwiBuild and for the same reasons - they think if they throw cash at something, that gets them somewhere... but it doesn't," he said. 

Māori landowners will get $100 million from the PGF, the Government announced on Sunday, after research showed 80 percent of Māori freehold land is under-utilised and unproductive.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said lifting the productivity of Māori land will have enormous benefits for regional economies. He said the biggest barrier to land development has been "access to financial capital". 

He said the Government will invest $27.26 million to upgrade transport in Kaipara in Northland, with strengthening transport links highlighted as "critical to fully unlocking the potential of the North". 

Mr Bridges said it's "nice" that Mr Jones has given almost $30 million to Kaipara, but said the minister is "wasting his time up in Northland". 

Asked if he thinks Mr Jones is buying votes, Mr Bridges said "that's exactly what Shane Jones is doing". 

"Here, what you need for the complexity of the multiple landowners, isn't cash, it's legal reform. We've got the law to do that, the Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill," Mr Bridges said. 

The bill he referred to was introduced to the House in April 2016 to further reform Māori land law. It aims to empower Māori land owners to achieve their aspirations while enabling better utilisation of land.

Mr Bridges said handing money to Māori won't achieve anything and that Māori land laws need to change first. 

"That's what's required to unlock this."

The Tauranga MP said he will be in Waitangi on Tuesday where he will attend a pōwhiri alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

He will then travel to Tauranga on Waitangi Day for celebrations.