There are a number of ways to have input into a Māori land trust and how it is run.

If you are a trustee of a Māori land trust, you can attend trustees’ meetings to discuss issues and make decisions about the land. Trustees must be given adequate notice of any meeting to allow them to make travel arrangements and attend the meeting if they wish.

If trustees cannot attend a meeting, they may also be able to vote on issues by proxy (where another trustee at the meeting votes on their behalf). Whether this is allowed for a particular trust is usually specified in the trust order.

Trustees can apply to change the terms of the trust, but support of the other trustees and beneficiaries is needed. A meeting of the beneficiaries should be held, and if the meeting agrees with the proposed changes, then an application to change the terms of the trust can be lodged with the Māori Land Court.

If you are a beneficiary of a Māori land trust and aren’t happy with how it is being run, you can find out who the trustees are and write to the trust asking for an update. Meetings of owners should also be held from time to time to report on trust activities. Beneficiaries should be given adequate notice of these meetings so that they can attend.

Trustees or beneficiaries of a trust may also apply to review the terms, operation or any other aspect of a Māori land trust under Te Ture Whenua Māori Act. This is another way to vary the trust or trust order if there is some disagreement between trustees or beneficiaries that can’t be resolved.

Rebecca Scoular-Sutton

Māori Issues Lawyer