Legislation & practice notes

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Our legislation

Both the Māori Land Court and the Māori Appellate Court are Courts of record under the authority of Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 (also referred to as the Māori Land Act 1993).

In August 2020, Te Ture Whenua Māori (Succession, Dispute Resolution, and Related Matters) Amendment Act 2020 was passed. The Amendment Act includes targeted changes to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act, so it works better for Māori land owners. These changes came into force on 6 February 2021 and represent the most significant changes to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act since 1993. 

Included in the changes introduced by the 2020 Amendment Act is the extension of the Māori Land Court’s jurisdiction, enabling judges to make rulings under five additional pieces of legislation, which are included in the table below.

Find out more about what the legislation changes mean for you.

To read the new Amendment Act, visit the New Zealand Legislation website.(external link)

Below is a summary of some of the different legislation, rules and regulations under which we operate.

Legislation (Acts of Parliament)

TitlePurposeDate it came into force
Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993(external link) Our primary legislation which continues the Māori Land Court and Māori Appellate Court, and which sets out our full jurisdiction and the power and limitations of both Courts 01/07/1993
Te Ture Whenua Māori (Succession, Dispute Resolution, and Related Matters) Amendment Act 2020(external link)

Introduces targeted changes to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act.

Note – these amendments are not currently incorporated into Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, so you will need to read both Acts together to understand how Te Ture Whenua Māori legislation applies to your land.
06/02/2021
Family Protection Act 1955(external link) The Māori Land Court will hear an application under this Act, if the application relates to Māori freehold land only. 26/10/1955
Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949(external link) The Māori Land Court will hear an application under this Act, if the application relates to Māori freehold land only. 20/10/1949
Property Law Act 2007(external link) The Māori Land Court will hear an application made under certain parts of this Act, if the application relates to Māori freehold land. 01/01/2008
Local Government Act 1974(external link) The Māori Land Court will hear an application under this Act, if the application relates to Māori freehold land only. 01/12/1974
Government Roading Powers Act 1989(external link) The Māori Land Court will hear an application made under certain parts of this Act, if the application relates to Māori customary land or Māori freehold land only. 01/10/1989
Protected Objects Act 1975(external link) Power to determine ownership of any taonga tūturu found anywhere in New Zealand or within the territorial waters of New Zealand 01/04/1976
Māori Purposes Act 1983(external link) To enable the Court to determine entitlements to Tītī Islands interests 16/12/1983
Māori Purposes Act 1991(external link) Limited powers extended to the Court in relation to the Wi Pere Trust 20/06/1991
Fisheries Act 1996(external link) Enables a Judge of the Māori Land Court to hear applications and make recommendations for the establishment of a Taiāpure – local fishery 14/08/1996
Local Government (Rating) Act (external link) 2002(external link) Power to grant and discharge charging orders over Māori land for payment of outstanding rates 01/07/2003
Māori Fisheries Act 2004(external link) Enables a Judge of the Māori Land Court to give advice about or determine disputes regarding entitlements 26/09/2004
Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004(external link) Enables a Judge of the Māori Land Court to give advice about disputes regarding entitlements 22/12/2004

Rules & regulations (legislative instruments)

TitlePurposeDate it came into force
Māori Land Court Fees Regulations 2013(external link) Regulations setting our application fees 01/07/2013
Māori Land Court Rules 2011(external link) Regulations setting how we receive, review, notify, process and conclude your applications. Our rules set out our responsibilities when dealing with your application, court records and our Judges 01/12/2011
Māori Assembled Owners Regulations 1995(external link) Regulations setting out the rules on how a meeting of owners of Māori land must be help, how it is recorded and how the outcomes are reported. These regulations only apply to Māori land blocks that do not have any existing trustees or which are not vested in a Māori Incorporation 27/04/1995
Māori Incorporations Constitution Regulations 1994(external link) Regulations setting the rules by which all existing Māori Incorporations must be run 01/06/1994
Māori Reservation Regulations 1994(external link) Regulations setting the rules by which all Māori Reservations must be run 23/05/1994
Māori Occupation Orders Regulations 1994(external link) Regulations setting out what information you need to supply with any application for an occupation order under our Act 13/10/1994

Note: the Ministry of Justice provides the operational support and staff for the court.  Our Act, Rules and Regulations are administered by Te Puni Kōkiri – the Ministry of Māori Development on behalf of the Minister for Māori Development.

If you have any questions about making changes to our current legislation or any rules or regulations, you can contact Te Puni Kōkiri(external link).

If you're searching for historic legislation that's no longer in force, you can visit the New Zealand Legal Information Institute database(external link).

Contact us for more assistance

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Practice notes to inform legal practitioners

From time to time, our Judges may issue practice notes to guide legal practitioners through a process they need to undertake.

Current practice notes issued by our Judges

TitlePurposeDate it came into force
Citation of decisions of the Māori Land Court and Māori Appellate Court [PDF, 275 KB] A guide to how decisions of the Māori Land Court and Māori Appellate Court should be cited 15/11/2013
The Māori Land Court Special Aid Fund – Appointment of a Barrister or Solicitor [PDF, 1.1 MB] A guide to the appointment, engagement and payment of the fees of a barrister or solicitor where payment is sought from the Māori Land Court Special Aid Fund 31/05/2012

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