Of particular interest to Māori land owners, the Bill seeks to streamline and simplify parts of the current Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993.

A proposal that seems likely to simplify matters for those with interests in Māori land held in trusts, is one that would see changes to enable a Registrar of the Māori Land Court to determine a “simple and uncontested trust matter”, on request of an applicant.

It is clear that what “simple and uncontested” means in practice would be up to the Registrar, although the Bill does provide some guidance, which includes, in summary:

  • Constituting a whānau trust to hold only the applicant’s beneficial interests or shares.

  • Determinations or orders that the powers of the trustees have ended for a kai tiaki trust constituted for a minor, when the minor became 20 years old.

  • Appointing a trustee to a whānau trust if no objections are received within 28 days after notice is given of the proposed appointment.

Other important things to know about the process, include:

  • A determination or order made by the Registrar in these circumstances will be treated as an order of the court, except in limited circumstances.

  • The Registrar can refer an application to the court for determination at any point, if the Registrar decides the application is not actually simple and uncontested.

  • Any person affected by the decision of the Registrar can apply to the court for a review. Meanwhile, leave of the court would be required to rehear the Judge’s review decision.

Peter Johnston
Māori Issues Lawyer