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Taonga Māori

Succession: Transfer of ownership when an owner dies

Applying to the court for a succession order

Court registrars can deal with simple succession matters

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, s 113A

The Māori Land Court Registrar can take care of simple succession matters, without the need to go to court.

Registrars can decide succession matters that are “simple and uncontested”, meaning that they aren’t complicated, and no one has objected to what’s proposed. Some “simple and uncontested” situations include:

  • when all the people are of the same class of alienees, and will succeed to equal shares
  • when this isn’t the first succession, and the court dealt with a previous one.

To go through this quicker process, you apply in the usual way, and should include plenty of detail to show that your situation is simple and uncontested, and notify anyone else who is affected, or named in the application. (See “How do I apply to be a successor?” in this chapter.)

How do I apply to be a successor?

You’ll need to complete an application for a succession order and lodge it with the Māori Land Court. (For information about the application process, see “Applying to the Māori Land Court for an order” in this chapter.)

You’ll need to include the following with your application:

  • a death certificate (either an original or a certified copy)
  • a certified copy of either the will, the court’s grant of probate (its acceptance of the will as valid), or the court’s grant of administration (which applies if there’s no will)
  • the application fee
  • whakapapa details for the deceased person – this includes parents and brothers and sisters (including whāngai and those who have passed away).

    Note: There are many different application forms for succession, so it’s best to talk to the court staff to find out which one best suits your situation.

Locating the land interests

Māori Land Court Rules 10.1

To get details of who has an interest in the land, you can apply to the Registrar for a “search of beneficial interest” of the deceased, or use the Māori Land Information System (MLIS) at any office of the Māori Land Court, or search online at www.maorilandonline.govt.nz

Court staff will always carry out a full search when they receive your application.

Who should sign the succession application?

The applicant or their lawyer if they have one. There’s no need for the application to be signed by all the people who are entitled to be successors. By providing whakapapa details in your application (see above), this ensures that all entitled people are included.

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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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