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The Māori Land Court

Overview of the court and its functions

What is the Māori Land Court?

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, s 6

Te Kōti Whenua Māori (the Māori Land Court) has the following key features and functions:

  • Like the general courts such as the District Court and High Court, the Māori Land Court is a court of record, which means that a permanent record of all its proceedings, decisions and orders is kept, and the court is the custodian of and maintains those records.
  • The Māori Land Court is unique as a court in that it also has a land registry function, maintaining a register of all Māori land.
  • The court determines issues to do with the status of Māori land.
  • The court examines and gives approval, if the relevant criteria are met, to transactions that transfer ownership and other interests in Māori land, including the transfer of a deceased owner’s interests to his or her successors (“succession”), and the selling or gifting of land (“alienation”).
  • When it has received an application, the court can establish Māori land trusts and incorporations, or recommend that Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry for Māori Development) establish a Māori reservation, to enable the multiple owners of Māori land to make decisions about their land more effectively.
  • The court provides the public with access to information concerning Māori land and to the court’s records.
  • Māori Land Court staff provide advisory services to the public in the form of assistance, education and general information about Māori land.

Note: You can challenge a decision of the Māori Land Court by appealing to the Māori Appellate Court. The Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court also has a special power to change a Māori Land Court order to fix a mistake or omission (see: “Challenging decisions of the Māori Land Court”).

The Māori Land Court’s main objective

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, s 17

The Māori Land Court’s two main objectives are for Māori land and General land owned by Māori to be retained in the hands of its owners, and for the owners (or people acting on their behalf) to be able to use, manage and develop the land effectively.

Where does the Māori Land Court have its offices?

Māori Land Court Rules 2011, rule 3.1

The Māori Land Court has seven District Offices:

  • Te Taitokerau (Whangārei)
  • Tairāwhiti (Gisborne)
  • Waikato Maniapoto (Hamilton)
  • Waiariki (Rotorua)
  • Tākitimu (Hastings)
  • Aotea (Whanganui)
  • Te Waipounamu (Christchurch).

There are also two Information Offices at:

  • Tāmaki Makaurau (Ellerslie, Auckland)
  • Te Whanganui-a-Tara (National Office, Wellington).

    Note: The difference between a District Office and an Information Office is that the District Offices have an archive room where historic and current paper records are kept and are open for public viewing.

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Māori land

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online:

Māori Land Court

See the Māori Land Court website for application forms and information about Māori Land and the court’s role and processes.

Website: www.maorilandcourt.govt.nz
Download application forms online: www.maorilandcourt.govt.nz/our-application-process/come-in-apply-to-the-court/application-forms
Download information booklets online: www.maorilandcourt.govt.nz/about-mlc/publications
View the National Pānui online or subscribe online: www.maorilandcourt.govt.nz/national-panui

Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre

The Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre assists all Ngāi Tahu and all Māori living within the Ngāi Tahu rohe on Māori land law issues.

Website: www.ngaitahulaw.org.nz
Email: info@ngaitahulaw.org.nz
Phone: 0800 626 745

Pātaka Whenua

Pātaka Whenua is the new online customer portal that replaced Māori Land Online. This customer portal gives you the ability to submit an enquiry, access Māori land information and file a Court application.

Website:  www.customer.service.maorilandcourt.govt.nz
View the user guides on Pātaka Whenua online: www.māorilandcourt.govt.nz/contact-us/pātaka-whenua-our-new-online-portal

In the future you will be able to search for documents including Minutes and Orders. Until this is available online, you can access this information by emailing mlctewaharoa@justice.govt.nz or visiting your local Māori Land Court office.

Te Tumu Paeroa: Office of the Māori Trustee

Te Tumu Paeroa provide professional trustee services where the Māori Trustee has been appointed a role on a Māori Land Trust.

Website: www.tetumupaeroa.co.nz
Email: contact@tetumupaeroa.co.nz
Phone: 0800 943 682

Inland Revenue Department, Kaitakawaenga Māori service

Kaitakawaenga Māori provides support to any Māori individual or business wanting tax information, advice or training.

Website: www.ird.govt.nz/contactus/kaitakawaenga-maori

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