COVID-19 response

If you are looking for the latest legal information relating current Coronavirus laws in New Zealand, check out our new section: Coronavirus and the Law.

Communtity Law Manual | Māori land | The successors: People entitled to ownership when an owner dies

Succession: Transfer of ownership when an owner dies

The successors: People entitled to ownership when an owner dies

Who can be a successor to Māori land under a will?

If the deceased owner made a will, any successor named in the will must fall within the “preferred classes of alienees” – that is, they must be a member of the whānau or hapū associated with the land. (For information about wills generally, see the chapter “Wills”.)

People who are not from these classes may be entitled to a life interest in the land or a right to income from the land only.

Who can be a successor if there’s no will?

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, s 109

If the deceased owner of the land didn’t leave a will (this is called “intestacy”), the successors are determined by the following rules:

  • A deceased’s surviving spouse or civil union partner receives a life interest. Their interest will pass to the deceased’s children once the spouse or partner dies or remarries or enters into a civil union or de facto relationship.
  • If the deceased owner has no surviving spouse or partner, the deceased’s children will be the successors.
  • If the deceased had no children, the deceased’s siblings (brothers and sisters) will be the successors.
  • If the deceased owner had no children or siblings, it will be necessary to find out where the deceased’s interests came from and from that whakapapa work out who the interests should now go to.

Can whāngai be included in succession?

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, s 115; Māori Land Court Rules 2011, Schedule, Form 21

Yes. The Māori Land Court can consider whāngai when determining the deceased’s successors (a whāngai is a person adopted in accordance with tikanga Māori.) The court must be satisfied that whāngai should be included and it may require evidence from the whānau about this.

In general, the court will want to be satisfied that all the natural children consent to their whāngai sibling also being included. However, the court may decide that the whāngai should be included regardless, especially if he or she is a member of the whānau or hapū associated with the land (the “preferred classes of alienees”).

back to top

Check out Frequently Asked Questions and Answers related to COVID-19 on our website here

Most Community Law Centres have returned to their normal face-to-face free legal services during Level 1.  Find the contact details of your nearest Community Law Centre here

You will also find out useful information on our Community Law Manual Facebook page.

Page Reader Press Enter to Read Page Content Out LoudPress Enter to Pause or Restart Reading Page Content Out LoudPress Enter to Stop Reading Page Content Out LoudScreen Reader Support