Māori land FAQs

Questions and answers regarding Maori land, including requirements of the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, legal resources, Landonline information and contacts.

Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993

What does the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 require of practitioners?

Before commencing an e-dealing, you need to be confident about whether or not the ownership status of the land is Māori freehold. If your investigation of a land title finds any suggestion it relates to Māori freehold land, the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 may apply.

The Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 provides the rules around land dealings that change the ownership status of Māori land. In general, where Māori land is to be alienated, an application for confirmation must first be made to the Māori Land Court. Specific requirements vary according to the type of land dealing.

The Māori Land Court also has jurisdiction to determine by status order the particular status of any parcel of land.

The Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 is available online.

What is the definition of alienation?

Subject to section 4(c)(i)-(vii) of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, every form of disposition of Māori land, whether divided or undivided. In general, the passing of title from one party to another.

Why can't I simply rely on Landonline to tell me if land is Māori-owned?

Landonline's automated e-dealing service is provided on the understanding that practitioners correctly represent the ownership status of land before undertaking the dealing. Practitioners are expected to identify whether or not land is Māori-owned before undertaking an e-dealing.

Occasionally there are ambiguities around land ownership. In such situations the matter comes under the jurisdiction of the Māori Land Court, which is where inquiries should be made.

Compliance issues

Why is Māori land dealing being singled out as an issue?

Landonline's automated e-dealing service is provided on the understanding that practitioners correctly represent the ownership status of land before undertaking a land dealing.

Historically some practitioners undertaking land dealings have not complied with the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. A LINZ review carried out in 2008 found some practitioners were not properly investigating the ownership status of land before undertaking e-dealings involving Māori freehold land.

Who is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of land title ownership information?

Practitioners are responsible for correctly ascertaining the ownership status of land before undertaking dealings on that land.

LINZ is responsible for maintaining and operating the regulatory framework and systems for rights and transactions involving land, and for land information management.

What sort of information on a land title might suggest land is Māori owned?

Indications of Māori land ownership may include a Māori Land Court status order, historical Māori Land Court vesting orders, Māori block name or possibly a succession of owners with Māori names.

What is the correct process to follow when alienating Māori land?

The Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 gives the Māori Land Court jurisdiction over the Māori land alienation process.

In general, where Māori land is to be alienated, an application for confirmation must first be made to the Māori Land Court. Specific requirements vary according to the type of land dealing.

Where confirmation is required, you will need to lodge an image of the Māori Land Court confirmation notice when undertaking your e-dealing on Landonline. Where confirmation is not required, you will be asked to provide evidence of this instruction.

What are the penalties for incorrect Māori land dealing?

Any instance of non-compliance is taken very seriously, with cases referred to the New Zealand Law Society complaints service.

Landonline process

What should I do if I suspect land I wish to complete a dealing on may be Māori-owned?

You will need to investigate further the ownership status of the land.

For example, if while checking a title you find evidence of Māori freehold ownership, you will need to check the status of the land within the land register or Māori Land Online. If the above investigation isn't conclusive, make inquiries at the Māori Land Court.

If Māori Land Court records can't provide a definitive answer, it may be necessary to seek a determination before e-dealing can be initiated.

When registering a change to Māori land, what do I need to provide to LINZ?

Specific requirements are set out in the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 and vary according to the type of land dealing being undertaken.

Where Māori Land Court confirmation is required, you will need to lodge an image of the confirmation notice during your e-dealing transaction on Landonline. Where confirmation is not required, you will be asked to provide evidence of this instruction.

What are the statutory compliance requirements applicable to different Māori land dealings?

Requirements around instruments considered alienations under the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 are set out in the Certification of Electronic Instruments (Statutory Requirements and Retention of Evidence) Standard 2018.

How do I know if land has been flagged on Landonline as potential Māori-owned land?

If a title on Landonline is flagged you will discover this when you search that title and during the Certify and Sign stage of your e-dealing. However, if you suspect a dealing involves Māori land, you should make your own efforts to investigate this rather than relying on the flagging system. Due to the complexities involved, not all Māori land is necessarily flagged as such on Landonline.

At what stage during a Landonline e-dealing would I need to make a "Māori land compliance certification"?

During the Certify and Sign stage of your e-dealing.

What do I need to do if land I'm attempting to register through Landonline is flagged as potential Māori land?

If you are certain the land is general land, proceed with your e-dealing by making a certification that you are complying with the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. Create a Request (Request type is ‘Titles – Correction’ or ‘Titles – Correction Prevents Registration’)  in your Workspace to submit evidence the land is general land and ask for the flag to be removed. In some cases, information on a historical title will be sufficient evidence, or you may decide to forward to LINZ correspondence you have had with the Māori Land Court.

If after carefully reviewing the land title, you have doubts about the land ownership status or believe the land is Māori freehold, contact the Māori Land Court to clarify the land ownership status. In general, where Māori land is to be alienated, an application for confirmation must first be made to the Māori Land Court. To complete an e-dealing, provide evidence of confirmation to LINZ during the certification stage.

How do I get a Landonline Māori land flag removed from a general land record?

If you are certain the land is general land, proceed with your e-dealing by making a certification that you are complying with the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. Send evidence the land is general land either with your dealing or by creating a Request (Request type is ‘Titles – Correction’ or ‘Titles – Correction Prevents Registration’) in your Workspace and ask for the flag to be removed. In some cases, information on a historical title will be sufficient evidence. In other cases you may decide to attach correspondence with the Māori Land Court.

What criteria were used to flag land as Māori-owned on Landonline?

The flagging was done based on data supplied by the Māori Land Court and recognised indicators of possible Māori land status, such as Māori Block land description.

Who should I talk to for more information?

The Māori Land Court has jurisdiction in this area and its region managers should be able to assist you. Considerable information about Māori land and related records is also available on the websites of organisations such as Te Puni Kokiri.

What do I need to do if I suspect land is Māori-owned but I can't find a record of that on Landonline?

First check Māori Land Online and if that database doesn't contain the information you need, contact the relevant region manager of the Māori Land Court.

Māori Land Court

Which types of land dealings require the involvement of the Māori Land Court?

See: Landonline process/What are the statutory compliance requirements applicable to different Māori land dealings?.

How do I find out if a determination is in progress on a particular title?

Contact the relevant Māori Land Court.

How do I contact the Māori Land Court?

Contact details are available at maorilandcourt.govt.nz/contact-us.

Where can I find information about Māori land dealing?

Information is available on the Māori Land Court website.

Can Māori Land Online give me a definitive answer about a piece of land's ownership status?

In most cases you should be able to find Māori land on the system. However, not all Māori land is currently registered. If the above investigation isn't conclusive, make inquiries with the Māori Land Court.

If Māori Land Court records can't provide a definitive answer, it may be necessary to seek a formal determination from the Māori Land Court.

How does the Māori Land Court land ownership determination process work?

The process is described by the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993.

Where can I find a definition of terms used by the Māori Land Court?

A glossary of terms is available on the Māori Land Court website.

Last Updated: 3 December 2018