A recent High Court case has shown the importance for Māori trusts to abide by trust rules, in particular those relating to removing a trustee.

In that case, a trustee was removed from a Māori trust for allegedly bringing the trust into disrepute. The Trust Board removed the trustee for going to Ministers with allegations of wrongdoing by Trust Board members. The trustee challenged his removal, and argued he acted honourably and in accordance with his duties as a trustee.

The High Court agreed that the trustee had acted reasonably and pursuant to his duties as a trustee.

The unlawful removal had significant consequences as the trust was required to pay all the legal costs of the trustee, amounting to nearly $550,000, as well as its own legal costs.