A recent decision of the Māori Appellate Court held that two owners who derived revenue from the commercial use of multiply-owned Māori land are required to account to the other owners for revenue received beyond their shares. In this case the amount involved was $442,593 (less their own shares).

The Court held that two owners of multiply-owned Māori land ran a commercial camping ground operation to the exclusion of the other owners.  They received revenue from the camp users which was held to be revenue derived from the use of the Māori land by another.

While they were entitled to keep a share of the revenue equal to their interest or shareholding in the land, they had to account to the other owners for revenue received beyond their share.

This case is a timely reminder to owners of multiply-owned Māori land to take additional care when utilising land where no management structure is in place.

In particular owners should be aware of the rights of their co-owners and actions that may give rise to disputes between owners as to the utilisation, occupation and development of the land.

Peter Johnston

Maori Issues Lawyer
Wellington