Māori Land Court 

What is the Māori Land Court?

Where is the Māori Land Court?
What does the Māori Land Court do?
Can I sell my share in Māori land?

What is the Māori Land Court?

The Māori Land Court is a specialist court set up under the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 and hears matters relating to Māori land. It was originally established in 1865, and was set up to translate customary Māori land claims into legal land titles under English law. Now, about 1.3 million hectares, or five per cent of land across New Zealand, has been declared as Māori freehold land.

Where is the Māori Land Court?

The Court has no centralised courthouse, but has a head office in Wellington. The Court’s services are available from the registries and information offices around the country.  The Court has seven registries – Whangarei, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wanganui, Hastings, Gisborne and Christchurch - and an information office in Auckland. To contact them, go to their website.  

What does the Māori Land Court do?

At the registry offices, National Office and information office you can:

  • obtain application forms and make an application to the Court e.g. to transfer your share or  interest in Māori land to another person
  • lodge enquiries e.g. to find out whether your have any entitlement to interests in Māori land
  • talk to staff about Māori Land Court processes
  • look at current Māori Land title and ownership information by searching the Māori Land Online database through a public computer terminal.

At the registry offices you can also look at information about the title and ownership of Māori land (both historical and present), this includes surveys, partitions, utilisation, status declarations and alienation of Māori land.

You can find out more about what the Māori Land Court does and how to make an application, on their website or by downloading their information booklets.

For contact details of the registry and information offices or the National Office, visit their website.

Can I sell my share in Māori land?

Maori freehold land can only be sold in accordance with the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993.

If you own Maori land shares you are allowed to sell your shares, but generally only to someone who is in the “preferred class of alienee” – that is:

  • children and extended offspring of the owner transferring or selling land 
  • whanaunga of the owner selling or transferring land, who are associated in accordance with tikanga Māori with the land 
  • other beneficial owners of the land who are members of the hapu associated with the land 
  • descendants of any former owner, who is or was a member of the hapu associated with the land 
  • trustees of any person in the first three bullet points above 

You can sell to someone who isn’t one of the above, if you can prove that you have already unsuccessfully tried to sell at a fair value to the people who are in the “preferred class of alienee”.

You will also need to apply for approval from the Maori Land Court, and you have to discuss any sale with your children (even if you are selling to one of them).

For more information, visit the Māori Land Court website and read their Frequently Asked Application Questions.