Maori land is defined by s129 of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 . In short, the status of Maori land is as follows:
Maori customary land - land held by Maori in accordance with tikanga Maori. It has not been transferred into freehold title by the Maori Land Court, nor ceded to the Crown
Maori freehold land - land where the ownership has been determined by the Maori Land Court by freehold order
General land owned by Maori (other than freehold) - land owned by five or more people and where the majority of owners are Maori
Crown land reserved for Maori - land set aside by the Crown for the use and benefit of Maori.
Defining Maori land is complex and technical in some instances. If there is uncertainty about whether the land is Maori land or not, check with the Maori Land Court .
The ownership of Maori freehold land is confirmed by the Maori Land Court and granted title by the Crown. Section 123(1) of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 states that orders affecting title to Maori freehold land must be registered against the title to that land under the Land Transfer Act 1952 or the Deeds Registration Act 1908. In other words, the Registrar of the Maori Land Court can present orders for the purpose of registration in the Land Title System, which is the process by which a title is issued for land. Before Te Ture Whenua Maori Act, it was not compulsory for orders made by the Maori Land Court to be registered with LINZ and therefore the LINZ record may not be complete.
If the land description includes a Maori Block name as part of the description, the Maori Land Information Base (MLIB) on Te Puni Kokiri 's website is a good resource. However, the data underpinning the MLIB should be regarded as indicative only. To obtain definitive information, enquiries should be made to the Maori Land Court which holds the majority of Maori land records.
Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is an alternative contact, especially if the land description does not include a Maori block name.