Maori Land Law

We can provide specialist advice to a wide range of individuals, Whanau, Trusts and Incorporations on matters relating to Maori Land, including:

  • Succession, gifting/transferring interests in Maori Land, Estate planning
  • Establishment and administration of Maori Land Trusts (including reviews, variations, changes of trustees, annual, special and Trustee hui)
  • Good governance – Trustee and Director roles and responsibilities, Trustee training
  • Practical advice on all areas of business and employment
  • Partition, Occupation Orders, Licence to Occupy, Leases, Title Improvement
  • Maori Reservations
  • Mediation and Dispute Resolution
  • Post-settlement advice and assistance with structuring and entities

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Succession, gifting/transferring interests in Maori Land, Estate planning

Succession of Maori Land functions quite differently from non-Maori land. The Te Ture Whenua Māori Act (“The Act”) sets out the rules for who may succeed Maori Land.

In the event of a death, if there is a will, land may be passed to direct relatives, whangai relatives, members of the hapu associates of the land, other owners of the land who are members of the hapu.

If an owner of Maori Land passes away without leaving a will, land can pass to children of the deceased owner, including whangai children, and other family members.

We can advise on the process of ensuring your will reflects your obligations and rights under the law, transferring ownership, and the ability to receive income from the land if you are a spouse or civil union partner.

Establishment and administration of Maori Land Trusts (including reviews, variations, changes of trustees, annual, special and Trustee hui)

There are a variety of trust structures that can be established, administered.

Share based trusts such as Whanau, Kaitiaki and Putea Trusts are trusts which hold shares in Maori land blocks, whilst land based trusts manage Maori land on behalf of the owners. These include Whenua Topu and Ahu Whenua trusts.

The right kind of trust structure is something that depends on the nature of those with an interest in the land, and what the intention for the use of the land is, for example, whether it is family owned, whether there are minors who have an interest in the land, or whether the land is to be held for community use or for an iwi.

Good governance – Trustee and Director roles and responsibilities, Trustee training

Taking on a leadership role in a Maori organisation requires good governance – in this case, careful consideration of the intended purpose of the organisation or structure, and ensuring that tikanga principles are taken into account. The aspirations and values of whanau, iwi and hapu must always be considered. We are able to provide guidance and assistance in ensuring these obligations are met.

Partition, Occupation Orders, Licence to Occupy, Leases, Title Improvement

Under the Act, it is possible to take a number of actions which can amalgamate or divide Maori land. Different types of partition (dividing the land and creating new titles or blocks) may be possible, as well as amalgamating individual blocks into one larger one.

Maori Reservations

Reservations are a common land holding structure which set aside land which holds special significance to Maori, (e.g spiritual or historical sites). There are both advantages and disadvantages to this type of structure and a number of obligations that Trustees of a Maori Reservation must undertake. We are able to guide you through the process and let you know what your responsibilities are.