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Taonga Māori

Overview and key terms

The main legislation

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 and its purpose

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, Preamble; s 17

Māori land is governed by Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 (the Māori Land Act 1993), which recognises that land is taonga tuku iho, holding special significance for Māori.

The two key objectives of the Act are for Māori land to be retained as taonga tuku iho in the hands of its owners and their whānau, their hapū and their descendants, and to promote Māori land being used, developed and controlled by those Māori owners. To achieve those goals, the Act requires that almost all dealings with Māori land must be examined and approved by the Māori Land Court, including, for example, the selling or gifting of Māori land.

The Act’s focus on retaining Māori land in the hands of its owners and their descendants is a change from earlier laws, when there was a drive to individualise Māori customary ownership, and make it easier to sell land.

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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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