Iwi groups who are working through the Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiation process look forward to the settlement date, ready to finally take ownership of the redress assets transferred to them by the Crown after usually very lengthy negotiations.

The settlement date often comes at the end of a period of considerable activity, with the statutory timeframe for settlement giving them a relatively small window in which to get everything ready for settlement.

Many iwi groups expect that when the settlement date arrives they will take ownership of and begin managing the various redress assets, but in the case of land and property the actual change of ownership is unlikely to happen so quickly. 

Transferring ownership from the Crown to a post-settlement governance entity (“PSGE”) can be lengthy and complex because of the number of steps and parties involved.  Various Crown entities such as the Ministry of Education, Land Information New Zealand and the Office for Māori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti are usually involved, and there is likely to be a large volume of original paperwork that needs to be prepared and signed by all the representatives of the PSGE. 

Iwi groups often transfer some assets from the PSGE to another subsidiary entity, which adds additional time and complexity.

From the settlement date, groups take possession of land and property and have the right to benefit from it (for example by collecting rent from any tenants).  However, the process of registering this new ownership can take a lot longer.  Iwi groups will not be recorded as owners on the certificate of title to a property until registration of the ownership transfer is complete.  In other words, it can take a significant amount of time before they can show that they own a property on paper. 

It is likely that from the settlement date, the Crown is not required to insure properties that are to be transferred to iwi as part of a Treaty settlement.  Iwi groups should bear this in mind when working towards settlement, and make sure that they have talked to their insurer about any properties that need to be insured from settlement date.  If iwi groups do not think about this important issue until after settlement, they may find that valuable and important properties are left uninsured.

Failure to have your properties (which have been hard fought for during the negotiation process) fully insured, can have devastating consequences in the event that they are destroyed or damaged in the intervening period.