On Waitangi Day of 2018 a document was signed by multiple kaumatua and kuia (respected elders) to establish a mental health peer support network database. This document was handed to the Chairman Trustee of the Marae.

Nothing came of this proposed network database.

Recently, one of the preparers of the document brought the Chairman Trustee to the Māori Land Court with an application seeking to enforce the obligations made in the document.

The Court was quick to clarify that Trustees do have a legally enforceable obligation to keep and maintain Trust documents, as well as an obligation to disclose Trust documents to beneficiaries when appropriate.

As it turns out, the relevant document was not a Trust document, nor did it raise a Trust issue.

While the substance of the relevant document raised a worthy cause, the Court confirmed that the Chairman Trustee was under no legal obligation to establish a mental health peer support network database. Saying otherwise would be asking the Chairman Trustee to act on something that falls outside of his duties as a Trustee.

The Court went on to observe that Waitangi Day is a highly politicised event that attracts various advocates who mistakenly believe that their suggestions or actions are enforceable at law. In reality, legal enforceability often depends on whether certain formalities have been complied with. 

If you are wanting to prevent yourself from making a similar mistake, or if you are a Trustee wondering which of your obligations are within your duties and legally enforceable, be sure to reach out to a legal professional for advice in this area.


Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.