A whangai son was pleased to discover that his late whangai father had made provision for him in his Will of some Māori land interests.

The terms of the Will made mention of his various Māori land interests going to his biological children, and also to his whangai son by name.

Unfortunately the Will made no mention of the whangai relationship which existed between the deceased and his whangai son.

The biological children of the deceased disputed that a whangai relationship existed and strongly objected to any provision of Māori land being made to the ‘whangai’ son.

In order to uphold the provisions made to him under the Will the whangai son will be required, at significant monetary and emotional expense, to provide evidence of his whangai relationship with the deceased before the Māori Land Court.

This situation could have been avoided if the deceased had made it clear in his Will that his whangai son was indeed a whangai.

If you have a specific wish regarding any of your property after your death, make sure that you not only put it in your Will but ensure that it takes in to account the specific succession laws applying to Māori land.  It may avert disputes between family and whangai that could occur over your estate.

If you do not have a Will, the results can be even worse!  In that situation, who gets your Māori land is decided by provisions set out in Te Ture Whenua Māori Act.

Not having a valid Will, or having a Will that does not accurately reflect your intentions, can produce unintended, emotionally painful, and expensive, results for your family and loved ones.

When dealing with Māori land issues in your Will it is important to get professional advice.