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Building on and occupying Māori land

Kāinga whenua loans

The kāinga whenua loan scheme, introduced by Housing New Zealand and Kiwibank in 2010, helps Māori to be able to live on their multiply-owned Māori land. The loan allows you to build, buy or relocate a house on that land. Before the loan will be granted, you must have a licence to occupy the land from the owners (or from the trustees if the land is under a trust or from the committee of management if there’s an incorporation).

If you are considering getting a loan it’s a good idea to seek independent legal advice. You can contact your nearest Community Law Centre for free legal support.

Who lends the money?

Kiwibank lends the money. The bank has additional criteria you must meet to qualify, as well as the kāinga whenua scheme criteria.

Note: Unlike most loans, a kāinga whenua loan is secured only against the house, rather than against the house and land.

How big a deposit will I need?

You don’t need a deposit at all if the cost of building or the purchase price of the house is less than $200,000. In those cases, Kiwibank can lend you 100 percent of the amount required. However, the amount you can borrow is subject to certain conditions.

You may be able to borrow more in certain areas and you’ll still only need a deposit of 15 percent for amounts over $200,000.

Note: Home loan deposits usually can’t be gifted, but with this loan they can.

Who qualifies for a kāinga whenua loan?

You need to meet all of the following requirements:

  • you must work within a realistic travelling distance from the block on which you want to live
  • if there’s more than one borrower, only one of you has to live full-time in the house. Other whānau members can contribute to the repayments
  • no deposit is required if your loan is under $200,000
  • you must have a licence to occupy the land you want to build on (see below)
  • the land needs to be Māori land that can’t be mortgaged and that is either owned by multiple beneficial owners or under a trust or incorporation created under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act
  • you must have an acceptable credit history
  • you must have a valuation from a registered valuer
  • you must have a satisfactory building contract.

Loans can now be granted for repairs and maintenance to existing homes on multiply-owned Māori land.

Note: Māori land trusts are also eligible for loans.

Can several people apply for a kāinga whenua loan together?

Yes. There is a multi-borrower option that allows three or more borrowers in a single household to apply for the loan and contribute to the loan repayments. This is aimed at multi-generational households.

How do I get a licence to occupy?

First you’ll need to identify who owns the land and whether there’s a trust or incorporation administering it.

If a trust exists you’ll need the agreement of the trustees to obtain a licence to occupy, while if the owners are an incorporation, you’ll need to get agreement from the incorporation’s committee of management.

If there’s no trust or incorporation administering the land you’ll need to get all of the owners to agree to the licence being granted. If you’re unable to gain agreement from all owners or you can’t locate all of them, you can apply to the Māori Land Court for an “assembled owners” meeting to be held.

If an agreement can’t be reached, you’ll need to apply to the Māori Land Court for it to decide the issue.

For how to apply to the court, see “Applying to the Māori Land Court for an order” in this chapter.

Note: Details about ownership of the land and any trust or incorporation are available at your nearest Māori Land Court office.

Are there building requirements?

There are certain requirements for the house you’re planning to build, buy or relocate to the land. The house must:

  • be built on wooden piles
  • be one storey of at least 70 square metres, and
  • have reasonable road access.

I meet the criteria – how do I apply for the loan?

Housing New Zealand publications set out a number of steps when you’re applying for a kāinga whenua loan:

Step 1. Decide to live on your multiply-owned Māori land – You must consider the benefits, risks and costs of home ownership given the land has multiple owners.

Step 2. Apply for a kāinga whenua pre-approval – Kiwibank will assess whether you qualify for a kāinga whenua loan and tell you how much you could borrow.

Step 3. Seek licence to occupy – A licence to occupy gives you permission to live on the multiply-owned Māori land. Getting a licence can be a lengthy process when there are many landowners or trustees.

Step 4. Design of home – You need to design your home, bearing in mind the requirements of a kāinga whenua loan (see above “Are there building requirements?”).

Step 5. Find a builder and produce a budget and plan – Your budget will need to meet Kiwibank’s lending criteria. You must also get all the necessary local council consents.

Step 6. Loan approval from Kiwibank – If your application fits the kāinga whenua criteria and Kiwibank’s lending criteria, Kiwibank will approve the loan.

Step 7. Signing of the tripartite agreement – The tripartite (three-party) agreement is made up of the licence to occupy and a deed of mortgage. It needs to be signed by you, the landowners, and Housing New Zealand.

Step 8. Registration with the Māori Land Court – The court needs to register your licence to occupy.

Step 9. Building starts – Building or relocation starts according to the design, plan and budget you put forward as part of your application.

Step 10. Progressive drawdowns – The timing and other details for your drawing down of the loan will depend on your particular loan.

Step 11. Building complete – Once the building is complete you are now able to move in.

Note: Building on multiply-owned Māori land can be a long and complicated process. To get more information, contact Housing New Zealand on 0508 934 266 or, to find out if you qualify for a kāinga whenua loan, contact Kiwibank on 0800 272 278.

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Māori land

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and can help you apply to the Māori Land Court.

Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre


The Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre assists all Ngāi Tahu and all Māori living within the Ngāi Tahu rohe. They practise in Māori land law and in advocacy focused on kaupapa Māori.

Māori Land Court


Find information about the Māori Land Court online.



Download application forms online.

Information booklets


Download or view information booklets online.

National Pānui


View the National Pānui online or subscribe online.

Māori Land Online


Search for Māori land interests online.

Te Tumu Paeroa: Office of the Māori Trustee


Search online for funds owing to beneficial owners.

Inland Revenue Department, Kaitakawaenga Māori service


This service offers one-on-one tax advice; tax training or seminars; tax agencies at resource centres or marae; and school visits. This service will attend hui or come to you and provide other advice about your tax obligations.

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