An ahu whenua trust is the preferred vehicle used by Māori land owners to utilise one or more blocks of land for activities such as beef and sheep farming, dairy farming and horticulture.

To create an ahu whenua trust there needs to be at least one block of Māori land; the trust is formed in respect of all shares in that block of land. The existence of the trust does not affect the succession of individual’s shares in the block of land. Whānau, putea and kaitiaki trusts can all exist under an ahu whenua trust which acts as an umbrella for the block of land.

Trustees are selected to oversee the care and use of the land – their names will be on the title of the land as legal owners. The beneficiaries of an ahu whenua trust are the individuals with land interest in the block. The trustees are elected by the beneficiaries and trustees can only act in the best interest of beneficiaries of the land. The trustees are also required to comply with the terms of the Trust Deed which can provide further limitations on the trustees actions.

Peter Johnston
Māori Issues Lawyer