The Māori Land Court has invited resignations and directed elections to be held after Trustees failed to be accountable to beneficiaries or follow tikanga.

The purpose of the Trust was to administer land that was set aside as a Māori Reservation and to manage the marae upon it.

Beneficiaries complained of several incidents, including disrespectful behaviour toward kaumātua, failing to welcome people onto the marae, refusing to allow access to marae facilities, and refusing to provide a copy of the Trust’s charter to beneficiaries.

When the kaumātua tried to meet with the Trustees and resolve the issues the Trustees did not attend.

A vote of no confidence was passed at that meeting, and the Trustees were informed that the outcome needed to be addressed at the next AGM. However at the AGM the chairperson closed the meeting before the no confidence vote could be discussed.

The Court held that the resulting division between the Trustees and beneficiaries had wide reaching effects on whānau and hapū. The Trustees had lost the support of their beneficiaries and failed to perform their duties satisfactorily.

The Court invited the majority of the Trustees to resign, otherwise face removal by the Court. Additionally, several interim Trustees were appointed until elections could be held.

It is important for trustees of Māori Reservations to understand their obligations and carry out their duties satisfactorily.

If you think the Trustees of a Māori Reservation Trust have failed to carry out their roles satisfactorily, it pays to consult a professional experienced in the area.

Peter Johnston
Māori Issues Lawyer