Ahuwhenua FAQ


manaaki whenua, manaaki whaanau

​How do I set up a trust?
Landowners/shareholders can set up a trust by nominating trustees to manage their property or interests. The process is the same for all types of trusts, with the exception of Kai tiaki trusts.
The landowners/shareholders need to firstly hold a meeting, at which they:


- Agree to set up the trust

- Agree which blocks of land should be included in the trust
- Agree to the terms of the draft trust order which sets out the trustees' powers, rights and obligations
- Nominate trustees
- Take accurate minutes.

All landowners should be given sufficient notice about the meeting and the opportunity to discuss the proposal.

Who can be nominated as a trustee?
Any adult or body corporate can be a nominated as a trustee. They do not have to be a land owner. However the Court needs to be satisfied that the nominated trustee satisfies the requirements of Section 222 of the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. The court is unlikely to appoint someone who:
- Is bankrupt
- Is imprisoned
- Is convicted of a crime involving dishonesty
- Has a mental disability
- Has, in the past, failed to carry out the duties of a trustee to the satisfaction of the Court
- Is or is associated with a company that is in liquidation.

How many landowners have to be at the meeting?
The Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 does not stipulate a minimum number of landowners. This can be determined at the meeting and added to the draft terms of the trust for future meetings.

If we want to set up a whānau trust instead of doing succession to our Dad, do we all need to consent?
Yes. If only 4 of 5 give their consent to put their shares in a whānau trust then only those shares will go into the trust.

Who can lodge an application to set up a trust?
An owner of the land or the person nominated at the meeting to do this task.

What do I need to provide to support the application to set up a trust?
You must provide:
- A copy of the minutes of the meeting, which should include all resolutions agreed to and the attendance list of those persons who were present
- A copy of the draft trust order, which has been approved by the landowners
- The written and witnessed consents of the nominated trustees
- A copy of the notice sent to the landowners and/or the public notice with the dates it was advertised
- For whānau trusts the written consents of the landowners agreeing to put their shares into the trust
- For whānau or putea trusts, a list of the land interests to be included in the trust
- Application fee of $61.00.

What happens after the trust is set up?
It depends on what the trust order says.  The trust order sets out the trustees' responsibilities and obligations to the landowners/shareholders.  Usually, trustees have to make sure they report back to landowners/shareholders at least once a year.

How do I find out who the trustees are?
You can search the name of the block through Māori Land Online. The management structure details will give you the trustees names, or you can contact the Māori Land Court directly for that information.

What rules govern the trust and how do I find out about them?
Every trust has an order or “terms of trust” which sets out the responsibilities and obligations of the trustees to the landowners/shareholders. Copies are available from your Māori Land Court Office.

How do I find out what the trustees have been doing?
Trustees should hold an Annual General Meeting where they will give a report of activity on the land.  The alternative is that you can write to the trust for an update.

Are we allowed to see the accounts for the trust?
Yes. Trustees should make all records of the trust available to landowners/shareholders

​Can trustees sell the land?
The standard “terms of trust” do not allow trustees to sell the land.  The trustees must hold a meeting of landowners/shareholders to vary the “terms of trust” to include a clause to sell.

What is the process if the current trustees are not meeting their obligations?
You will need to contact the Māori Land Court who can assist you with this query.

How long can a person be a trustee?
A trustee is appointed for life or until he or she resigns, unless otherwise specified in the trust order.

What if the trustees are now deceased or we need to change the trustees?
You will start the process from ‘How do I set up a trust’.

How do I cancel a trust?
There has to be general agreement of the landowners/shareholders that a trust is no longer required.  A meeting needs to be held or written consent of all the people concerned obtained.  An application then needs to be made to the Māori Land Court.

Can I take my shares out of a trust?
If it is in a whānau trust you can lodge an application to vary the terms of trust to take your shares out and to also change who the beneficiaries of the trust are.  If it is a Ahu Whenua, Whenua Topu or Putea trust then you would need to cancel the trust.

I am a trustee but unsure what my role and responsibility is?
Trustees are bound by Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 and the Trustee Act 1956.  Your powers, rights and obligations are set out in the “terms of trust”. Every Registry provides education seminars (Advisory Services Clinics) on the roles and responsibilities of a trustee.