The Māori Appellate Court has overturned a decision of the Māori Land Court which found that the Court does not have jurisdiction over a trust established to receive Treaty settlement assets.

The Māori Appellate Court has expressly disagreed with this finding and have themselves found that there is nothing in the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 (“the Act”) to limit the Court’s jurisdiction over common law trusts that may have been established to receive Treaty settlement assets.

It went on to find that the Māori Land Court’s jurisdiction extends to Treaty settlement trusts established in respect of any general land owned by a group of persons of whom a majority are Māori. 

This decision has significant implications for trustees of post settlement governance entities trusts (“PSGEs”) established by Māori to receive Treaty settlement assets. Where those assets include general land owned by Māori, the trustees of PSGEs will now be subject to oversight by the Māori Land Court and will have to comply with the provisions of the Act.  This includes the provisions of the Act relating to trusts including enforcing the obligations of trust, addition, replacement and removal of trustees, varying the terms of the trust deed and termination.

Peter Johnston
Māori Issues Lawyer

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