Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill, currently before Parliament, will significantly amend the law relating to the succession of Māori land interests where a person dies without a will.

Under the Bill, where a person dies without a will a whānau trust must be established if there is more than one eligible beneficiary to the deceased’s Māori land interests. If one of the beneficiaries does not want a whānau trust, the beneficiaries will be required to:

  • Agree to a ‘family arrangement’ vesting any or all of the interests in the beneficiaries (any unvested interests must still be placed in a whānau trust); and
  • Obtain a court order confirming the arrangement.

A beneficiary may also apply to the Court for an order vesting the land or interests in all the beneficiaries equally. However, any disputes amongst the beneficiaries about the intestate person’s Māori land interests must be dealt with under the Bill’s new and, as yet untested, dispute resolution process.

Going to Court can be an expensive and lengthy exercise. These changes highlight once again the importance of having an up-to-date will. This will help to ensure that your wishes are carried out and your whānau avoids unnecessary expense and delay dealing with any dispute over your Māori land interests.